Friday, May 23, 2014

Meh Mondays

I don't get to much of the Sunday Times anymore, but I usually make an honest effort with the magazine, and always make it at least to the Meh List. It seems like it'd be easy to come up with entries for this, just like it seems like coming up with a good entry for the New Yorker caption contest would be easy - but it's not.  This week has been all about Meh projects over here.  Maybe I'll make that like a craft blogger thing - we've already got Work-In-Progress Wednesday and Finish-It-Up Friday, maybe it's time for Meh Monday, where you post the projects you finished, but that either aren't that impressive or that you aren't that happy about.  Only I'm sharing on Friday, because I've got to move on to bigger and better things!

My first project was a new seat for the stroller I got J for Christmas.  The cheap-o fabric gave way on December 26th and the poor thing has been pushing it around for a few months now, unable to figure out why everything keeps falling out the right side.

The frame at least seemed sturdy enough, so I'd been meaning to do a new cover.  I really wanted to incorporate pompoms.  We like pompoms around here, we just aren't sure what to do with them.  J puts them in the salad spinner, the cats smack them all over the house and I just like to squeeze the ones that come on a ribbon like this:

Then I found this fabric last week.  J and Smashy Cat have been very sweet together lately; she likes to show him books about cats and he likes to smash his head into hers.  This totally reminded me of them (despite the whole vegetarian thing in this house):

It was about an hour project, very simple to just copy the old one.  

Not at all what these pompoms were intended for.  It looked much better before I put them on, but someone is really into them and I'm worried about what would happen if they were suddenly gone. It got a very satisfying reaction from the recipient who saw it through a window and started jumping up and down yelling "I see that! It's COOT!" So, kind of ridiculous but there you have it. 

I also did some spring cleaning this week, since spring has suddenly decided to show up.  I had to throw away about six of my favorite t-shirts because they've developed these little holes.

This is the genius of ladies clothing manufacturers - get us addicted to these super-thin, soft t-shirts that will only last a season, charge us twice as much because they're "tissue paper thin" and then sell us replacements next year.

For some reason the holes in my shirts are always concentrated in the stomach area.  I have no idea why that would be.  But these Ciao Bella salted caramel ice cream bars are pretty incredible (skip the other flavors, this is the only good one).

I remember seeing a tutorial about turning your oldies into toddler t-shirts, which seemed like a nice way to give them a second life.  You just lay out your shirt:

Lay a T that fits your kid on top and trace down each side and across the bottom:

Sew the sides, take up the bottom too (or don't, it could be a dress if you don't have those stupid holes), and there you have it:

Hey, and if the neck is too wide and goes all flash dance, just add a binder clip - they don't even notice.

The whole thing took under ten minutes.  Wasn't sure what to do about the neck, but a friend suggested elastic, and that took another three minutes to string a 1/4" strand through the pre-existing neck. Here's the finished product:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Sun Tea Dress

Does anyone else remember Red Rose Tea? I think it was like the Lipton Brisk of the 1950s (and '60s and '70s).  The kind of thing you won't find at Whole Foods but they still believe in it at Market Basket. We had it in our kitchen growing up, but I think we only used it for sun tea.

I don't remember ever getting a porcelain miniature...
I remember trying to serve it to my Grandpa Lee once, thinking it was so sophisticated with the little red rose on the tag. That's when he told me that I should never drink bagged tea because it was made up of all the dirt they swept up from the factory floor after the good leaves had been sold as loose leaf.  Other lessons from Grandpa Lee:
1. You shouldn't order fried rice because it's just a way for the chef to dispose of leftovers;
2. It's OK if you bruise easily, it's because you have aristocratic blood; and
3. Education is the one thing they can never take away from you.

But those are discussions for another day. I have fond memories of both the box and the dusty, factory-floor-flavor of this particular tea and the sweet, sweet tags - I knew someone would do something creative with these if I just searched Etsy!

When I found three yards of this material at Fabric Basement, it was a throwback to the Red Rose days.  I pictured a cute tea-length skirt or something simple and retro that wouldn't throw me too far off my carefully-calendared creative track.

I abandoned the skirt idea when I came across this much-too-complicated dress pattern that seemed perfect for the roses: Simplicity 1687.

I KNOW- $18.95, are they crazy? All I can say, is it would've been a good opportunity to use a Joann's coupon, if I'd had a current one.  Simplicity is very proud of the fact that they have never adjusted their sizes, so you are really supposed to go by measurement.  This can be really disheartening.  According to Simplicity, I needed to go up FIVE sizes. Fantastic.  Way to make me feel like this dress will be flattering.

I made the lining first, just to test it out, and it was HUGE.  Like ten inches too wide. When I cut into my pretty rose fabric I chopped it down three sizes, blindly hoping maybe that would fit? It's already way out of character for me to make a lining first, so there would be no more testing.  A reminder of why I shouldn't make clothes and should stick to quilts.  Just as I was finishing, I realized I'd included an extra panel in the original lining I did - which was (in part) why it was so huge.  The dress barely fit - at the last minute I had to make some awfully narrow seams and even my hidden zipper got into the act, affording me another 1/4 inch since I didn't "hide" it.

Aside from sizing, I was also really annoyed that the pictures showed a contrast fabric both above and below the pocket zipper while the written pattern only included fabric below, which is just dumb and would look totally weird.  Here's how they suggested it would look:

I had to make that part up myself.  Who publishes a pattern with that kind of mistake?  Sorry, but if you're going to sell something like this at a premium price, you might want to test it. My improvisation was good enough:

Aside from the pulling at the neck (I think my shot cotton was too thin? Or something with thread tension or not enough curve clipping? Although I clipped the heck out of it. It's so hard to learn from your mistakes when you aren't sure what they are), I think it came out pretty nice.

Now I just need a warm day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? I Hear Climate Change Messing With Julie's Head!

I really need to get on my seasonal game. I promise this is my last winter-themed project this spring, unless we get another 40 degree day and then all bets are off.  This quilt is up for auction at the Youth Advocacy Department fundraiser on Thursday night at the Children's Museum, if you're interested!

YAD is my old employer, and they do some great work as the juvenile public defenders in this state. A YAD attorney isn't just trying to get successful outcomes in court - they work with social workers and education lawyers (and often in place of social workers and ed attorneys) to try to change some of the circumstances that resulted in a court appearance in the first place.  I'm talking everything from getting a kid into summer camp, to finding him a mentor or a job, hooking up therapy, or making sure that a client is getting the educational services they need.  So feel free to overpay, it's going to a good place!

OK, off the soapbox and onto (or should I say under?) the quilt.  We're super into Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? in this house, and my auction items are always book related!  So that's where the idea originated.  I hand appliqued the bear and did a little bit of embroidery, inspired by Follow The White Bunny - as far as I'm concerned she's the queen of embroidered animals and I love her style. This was my second attempt; the first I had to trash because I used a dark gray floss and he looked like he'd been attacked by a porcupine.  The soft gray interspersed with the white worked a lot better:

I also wanted to give paper piecing another try, and made five stars in all, though I only used the best ones!

Here's the whole thing:

And the back - still working on my free motion.  I almost didn't include this picture, but I think it's important to record this stuff when you're an amateur so you can see progress as the years go by!

It's 50"x50", a good size for that friend who's about to have a baby

Or for your favorite young reader to cuddle up under as they sound out "Po-lar Be-ar."  The quilt even comes with a copy of the book!

It's pretty snuggly:

Here's hoping it finds a good home!