Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feeling down? Sew a Napkin...or Three

Since my harrowing encounter with my cute but fierce shoulder bag (which I beat to a pulp before our reconciliation), I have decided to stick to two-dimensional, smaller projects. Like...napkins. We don't have any napkins at my home, so this project will be put to actual use. Yes, unlike the pillow and light summer blanket I made for my daughter's plastic pigs and clownfish, the napkins can be used by human beings.

The rather long pink napkin protects the lap area from greasy bits of falling food, whereas the smaller yellow macaroni-wheel design allows one to delicately dab the mouth from time to time without looking like Henry VIII. Thank you, Spool fabric store on 19th and South Streets for your fabulous array of fat quarters!

Handmade napkins make very nice holiday gift (guess what my relatives are getting this year). I also find that making them lowers my stress levels! It takes about 30 minutes each from start to finish.
I always drop bits of food in my lap.
Smaller napkins look better folded. For neater people.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pie, Tee-Shirts and Napkins

This weekend I made a blueberry pie; two napkins; and a tee-shirt bag!
The pie that almost alarmed the fire department
The blueberry syrup dripped in the oven, creating plumes of smoke. I heard sirens in the distance, but fortunately they were headed for a real fire somewhere else.

 Also on Saturday night I made a tee-shirt bag following directions from Vanilla Sky's crafty blog. The shirt was too tight but has a neat Asian-y pattern that is quite appealing. I sewed gussets in the bottom to make it more boxy and less sack like.

"S'alright? S'alright!"
Sewing a napkin, step by step. By step 3 you should end up with a Senor Wenceslas mouth. If you don't know who that is, go on YouTube. A man smeared some lipstick on his hand and made it talk in the voice of Charo. The hand even had a wig! Comedy has come a long way since the 1970s, for sure.

Don't get too close; it might bite
I also finally beat my bag into submission. My bag's safety word was "backstitch." The directions were sketchy, in my opinion, so I winged it after obtaining outside assistance. My initial experience was so traumatic, I am not sure I will even use it.
Sew around all sides, right sides facing.

Dinner is served
After turning napkin right side out, sew around all sides again,
 this time closing mouth.
Cut corners

Friday, July 22, 2011

Master of the Burp Cloth

Fat Quarters: Not a neighborhood in New Orleans.
But of the grocery tote bag? Not so much. To the left are a few Fat Quarters I picked up at Spool, my local fabric & sewing store extraordinaire. I think they call them that because they are about one-quarter of a yard. Turns out they are the perfect size for, among other things, burp cloths.

A burp cloth is a multipurpose, reusable wipe for drool and baby spit up as well as a nursing cover up if you're playing it discreet. This was much easier and faster than sewing a baby blanket, and it's fun to play with the Fat Quarters to see which colors and patterns will go well together! Here are my first two.
Going to two new moms in Turkey.
Although my baby blanket was well received, I'm going to be focusing on burp cloths for the next couple of months. That's where the big bucks are!!

As for my first grocery tote effort--meh. I got to a certain step in the simple pattern, but then my brain could not wrap itself around the directions well enough to finish. This time, though, I did NOT bang my head against any wooden objects, opting instead to sew my finger to the shoulder strap as punishment. Now THAT'S progress.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Practice Your Drunken Sewing

It's time to retire my idol, Don Music, who expected to hit all the right notes on the first try. Practice, Don, practice! I finished my first big sewing project last night, a big baby blanket for my friend Charlotte. Rhys Williams hopefully will debut August 11, when he will begin his life preparing to take over the future empty space left by Hugh Grant. Does his name not sound like a British actor poised to star in every BBC period piece production?

First, I basted my two contrasting fabrics (wrong sides facing each other) and cotton batting. After another hour of trying to keep my seam allowance aligned with my machine's needle, I had a blanket.
Blanket after adding zigzag decorative stitich around border; only slightly askew.

What has my first baby blanket taught me? The same lesson Don Music's head lumps do.
After two hours and some swear words, voila.
You aren't going to get better at anything if you spend all your extra time beating yourself up or comparing yourself to Martha Stewart. It isn't perfect; the tell-tale signs of drunken sewing are there, though I was 100% sober. It is really hard to keep a decorative border stitch straight through three layers of fabric. After I crank out a few burp cloths, though, I just may straighten myself--and my zigzags--out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pillows for Pigs

I've been practicing with my sewing machine. It's not as easy as it looks. Before you can sew a three-dimensional lobster cozy, you need to sew straight and clean. Behold:

Instead of veering wildly, my straight stich is finally in line! If you don't share my excitement, stop reading right now; it's not going to get more interesting for you.
Excited by my newly acquired skills, I cobbled together this small, small pillow:

This pig was kind enough to model my creation. He was tired out anyway from running away from a plastic wolf, so it was a win-win situation all around. Note the way I tucked in the edges after stuffing said pillow:

If you have a cat, he might use this pillow to rest his chin on after a night of feline wilding. For an extra frisson, lace the stuffing with dried catnip.

Monday, July 11, 2011


My recent foray into the world of crafts has produced decidedly mixed results. Behold the folk art bird.

This poor little guy died just to avoid being mishandled by me any further, and he constituted my second attempt. Also, my sewing machine caught some of his wing; he ended up with a flipper rather than a wing, so I've nicknamed him "Nessie." (Loch Ness monster, whom you never hear a peep about these days). He could also be a primeval half fish half reptile creature emerging from the primordial slime to land on my Raymour & Flanagan sofa.
My first bird, being handsewn, suffered a bird lobotomy. colostomy, and tracheotomy, which is to say he oozed stuffing. No one told me that sewing a 3-dimensional object would be so hard! So I tried my hand at a 2-dimensional nature scene to hang on my daughter's wall.

Much better! In case it isn't obvious, this rich tapestry depicts a wily fox half-hidden by tall grasses as he stalks a neighborhood chicken (off-tapestry). Large snowflakes fall in the light of a full moon. Oddly, the flakes resemble bits of moon, and remnants of dried glue dot the grasses. It's best to simply suspend disbelief to appreciate this scene. I can almost envision the spying Polonius eavesdropping behind this noble arras! If he were 12 inches tall, that is.

Note on my first bird: I used cheap flannel. Maybe this, paired with my rudimentary sewing skills, resulted in the fraying?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My favorite optimists.

Embrace the Negative

My baseline is negative. Some people have a Pollyanna outlook that colors their every experience. At the very least, they do not let flat tires and whining children get them down. Me? I am the muppet banging his head on the keyboard. Ouch. My only saving grace is my sense of humor. Since I was very young, my cynicism has always been a rich source of humor. It has kept me from completely succombing to the grouchy dark side.

Children, however, do not appreciate the humor that is borne from extreme annoyance. The semi-Pollyanna outlook is definitely preferred. The only individuals who can pull this off successfully are Mormons, for whom I have much respect. Did you know that all kids at heart are staunch conservatives? They want their parents to be together; they crave regular meals; routines are comforting rather than boring. Unlike most conservatives, however, children are optimists. They are without cynicism. I have been a conservative all my life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Attention Banditos, Commie-Pinkos, and Rabble Rousers! Are you planning a revolution? Have you considered the importance of ACCESSORIZING your political aspirations? I just learned how to make this JAUNTY SCARF. Order in bulk now and pay only $5 per unit! I will customize per your color specs.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Confession

Dear iPad,

It has been 6 years since my last, narcissistic post. In the interim, I have married, acquired a large, skittish dog, and produced two children. I have also attempted to convert to Catholicism, cook, sew, and be a good citizen, with varying degrees of success. I apologize for my former snarkiness. My current goals are modest: I want to raise happy children, go out more with my husband, and kill the person who invented autocorrect. What kind of diabolical individual would change "congratulations" to "Von rats"? And am I really more likely to frequently mention evergreens than I am a common preposition (fir vs. for)?

More to come!