a bench cushion

Many months ago, my Grampy commissioned me to make a cushion for this bench that he and my dad built together. It was winter, so I figured I'd wait until springtime to make it. Then springtime came and almost went, but I got my act together and just finished it this week.

The hardest part of any project for me is the math. You have to wonder how I made it into those advanced math classes when simple addition throws me off. Fortunately, though, I was able to avoid that embarrassment because I'd been given quite thorough instructions, complete with a diagram and measurements (forgive some of my scribbles on there). All I had to do was follow the directions and not screw anything else up too badly. I loosely followed the process from this Sew, Mama, Sew! tutorial by Autum, if anyone is inclined to make their own cushion.

It's pretty standard, as far as bench cushions go. I used a piece of 3" foam and a heavy-weight cotton outdoor canvas for the exterior. I used a bread knife to cut down the foam further after I bought it. I'm pretty sure that's what the professionals use. Never underestimate the power of kitchen cutlery in craft projects.

Along the length of the back there is a flap with Velcro so you can take the cover off and wash it. There are also two ties to secure it to the bench. Once it was all sewn, I sprayed it with a water repellant so it could withstand summer rain showers and maybe a spilled drink or two. You know how parties out on the deck can get.

One more project checked off the list. Just in time for us to tear apart our apartment this weekend and give it a fresh paint job this weekend. I was led to believe that painting parties always involved ordering in delicious, greasy pizza and eating junk food while you dance around to pop music, but I've recently been informed that is not always the case and, in fact, may not be the case this weekend. I don't think I want to paint my apartment if I can't eat pizza while doing so. I will see what I can work out. Soon I'll tell you about that food swap I went to this week, event though I forgot to take a picture of my loot before devouring most of it. And you'll hear about more recipes, new veggies & other tomfoolery.

a wedding quilt

Just in time to celebrate their first anniversary AND the purchase of their house! This is the wedding quilt that I made for my sister and her husband and yes, I did start it almost a year ago. You know how these things go. It was such a daunting project and, once pieced together, such a physically big project that it required taking over full rooms in our apartment (entryway, living room, office) just to work on. I couldn't even tell you all about my sewing adventures because while it wasn't an actual surprise, I still wanted to keep some of the allure and mystery.

I hoped to give it to them the first time I visited their new house, which I thought would be Tuesday night, but then they invited me over for dinner on Monday night and GAH! what is a girl to do when she's crouched over a not-secret-but-maybe-forgotten-about wedding quilt in a 90 degree apartment and the married couple invites her over for BBQ & beers? She picks up a 12-pack and goes, that's what she does.

It was my first quilt so I tried to keep it as simple as I could by using a basic square pattern, a cheerful bundle of fabric (fat quarters, in quilter-speak) from Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow Collection Sunny Day palette, solid brown cotton backing, pre-made quilt binding and a midweight blend batting inside. I quickly learned that quilting is a really precise art, full of math and spatial reasoning. Those aren't my strongest suits, but I mustered everything I had to pull this thing together. It's not perfect, but it was made with love for a loving couple. And I didn't even cry or throw things while making it, so by all measures this is a success for me.

I embroidered the quilt with their wedding date and two interlocking hearts, using the same font and motif from their wedding invitations and paperie. I'll admit to having practiced this entire design a good three or four times before actually starting the real one. It paid off though, because I think the embroidery looks really awesome. If I may be so bold as to say so. Big thanks to Chris who wisely suggested that practicing might help me (us) avoid a major quilting meltdown. Good call.

Another good call was my choice to finish the quilt using the tying method, rather than machine- or hand-quilting it. For my fellow non-quilters, the basics steps of making a quilt are: 1) cutting your squares (or other shapes), 2) piecing them together into the patchwork quilt top, 3) making the quilt sandwich (top, batting, back), 4) quilting (what you do to keep all of the pieces together and to keep them from shifting around) and 5) attaching the binding. The tying method is really just making little knots with yarn every so often instead of stitching straight or curved lines all over the quilt. It was pretty stress-free, although I did have to use a pair of pliers to pull the needle of yarn through the quilt each time.

And here is the happy couple with their wedding quilt in their new house! Hurrah! Since I'm no expert on quilting and I'm not sure when/if I'll even make another one, I'll just show you were I found some helpful tips, in case you are interested.

  • This Instructables on quilt construction has great pictures and step-by-step help.
  • An article on how to make a large quilt backing from standard 44/45" fabric.
  • Super helpful post on basting your quilt layers together. (She also makes really amazing quilts, the likes of which I can't even aspire to make.)
  • I also YouTubed a lot of videos for various stages, like this one on tying a quilt.

This short week has thrown me off, especially since Sister & I are heading to Connecticut tomorrow for an NKOTBSB show. You read that correctly, we are seeing New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys. I'm so excited that I'm not even ashamed to tell you all about it. I really wish we had kept our NKOTB t-shirts and earrings from back in the day. Or the Joey McIntyre doll. Or our NKOTB board game. Actually, I have quite a haul of BSB things to drag up from middle school, as long as we're confessing our boy band pasts.

a furry coat (plus, my 'about me' page)

Remember that red plaid dress I made way back when? If I had just thought to pair it with a big furry coat and jaunty-angled hat I could have made it on The Sartorialist.  Next time...

(Photo by The Sartorialist)

 (Photo by me, February 2009)

Meanwhile, what is it with me and plaid dresses? I can't get enough of them.  I just picked up a few new sewing patterns, and while I've already designated one to be made from a hilarious nautical print I have in my stash, it's increasingly looking like the other pattern will become... another plaid dress.

You may have noticed that posting has been a little light lately, but that's only because I've got lots going on at work and haven't had my usual energy to finish my posts in the early mornings. What's that, you thought I just sat around and looked up pretty pictures and tried out tasty recipes all day? I understand how you got that impression :) Click over to my About Me page to get the facts. It's been up there on the top of the page for about a month now. It's a work-in-progress, but I hope it shines a little light on my life beyond staging photo shoots with my dinner and knitting hats for everyone I know.  Though, of course, photographing my food is still a top priority...

like peas & carrots

Another Halloween, another homemade felt costume. This year, we went together like peas and carrots.  Organic, obviously.  And locally grown.

I'm pretty proud of these ones, and am especially pumped about my leafy greens hat and our USDA certified organic status.  We printed our USDA labels on a printable fabric sheet and hot-glued them on, although we could have sewn them.  I made my felt hat based on these directions, though I used a 10" x 23" piece of fabric instead of the original dimensions.  The leafy greens are a genius combination of felt, bendy straws and the top of a plastic drink bottle.  The peas were sewn on the pod and then stuffed with regular poly-fill.

The materials set us back around $15 total, but we have plenty of extra felt, maybe even enough to make a whole additional set of fresh produce.  And despite my best efforts, I did not end up using the piece of sparkly green tulle that I bought.  So let's say that the proper amount of material would have cost $10, five bucks per costume.  

I think we should volunteer to be the unofficial mascots of our local farmers market.  That way we would get to wear them every single weekend.

This was my inspiration photo (found here).  I think we came pretty close to it.