Friday, February 26, 2010

a plethora of pillowcases

Last weekend, Vada was invited to a birthday party, and I wanted to make a gift for her to take. I've had personalized pillowcases on my list of projects to try for a long time, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity! Remember this fabric? Check out what a cute girly pillowcase it made! I tried out some of that nylon embroidery thread for the zigzag around the letters, and it worked quite nicely. It maybe wasn't the best color, but I gave away all but two spools of it, so I didn't have much to choose from!

While I was cutting this one out, I had the Million Pillowcase Challenge on my mind. I have SO MUCH novelty print fabric, and I'll never be able to turn it all into charity quilts. Pillowcases would be so quick and easy! On top of that, it's the perfect project to take over to Ahava's place for our Friday sewing afternoons. I did a quick pull of coordinating fabrics, and started cutting away.

I used this tutorial (a PDF file), which is amazingly easy. It takes 3/4 yard of the main print, 1/4 yard of the contrast print, and one 2.5" strip for the band.

After Emma's, I made 10 more... Huzzah! That's 11 yards of loot used!!

When I made Emma's, I used French seams. But my finicky sewing machine really hates the bulk, and it drove me crazy with skipped stitches. So, I figured it was time to dust off the old serger. The last time I used it, I was doing rolled hems for napkins. I was not looking forward to having to read the manual to figure out how to reconfigure and rethread it for the normal mode. But I managed to do it with only a minimum of cursing. I'm happy it's done - I had forgotten how much fun it was to sew with! It feels so.... industrial!

And to prove just how anal I am sometimes... I really hate that you can see the serged edge of the seam at the opening of the case, and I wanted to find a way to make that look neater. So I tucked in the corners on both sides at the end of the seam, and then did the serging. It's a tiny thing, but it doesn't take much more effort, and I like that it helps to hide that ugly seam end.

When I started on these, I had no idea where I would donate them. But in an amazing bit of serendipity, I got Anna Lena's newsletter yesterday, in which Karen was asking for pillowcases for Camp Victory, which serves girls from ages 5-18 who have suffered sexual abuse. I can't think of a more worthy cause. I shipped them off this morning, and I'm excited to get started on my next batch. The Million Pillowcase Challenge lasts all year, and they're only up to 29,200 right now. Won't you join me and make a few?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Painting Vada's room

A long, long time ago, I saw this picture (no idea where!!), and thought that wall's painting scheme would be so cool for Vada's room. I saved it to my computer, and waited to work up the courage...

Finally, we got started. I taped up a sheet of paper from Vada's easel and free-handed some big curves (I wish I'd thought to take a picture of that - sorry!). I taped a second sheet over that, traced where the colors would meet, and cut it out along that line. We painted the bottom half, and then taped up the stencil.

And painted the top half.

And here's the first swirl. I'm just free-handing it with a small 1" paintbrush. I'm terrified I'm going to screw it up. But I'm also thinking - it's just a preschooler's room, and she'll love it no matter how amateur it looks. And in a few short years, she'll be wanting to paint it black anyway! :-)

I'll post more pictures when it's all done!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's day!

Look who got all "becky home-ec-y" for Valentine's day!

I made these treats for Vada's daycare's party. They were a little time-consuming, but so cute and yummy! Yes, I'm one of those weird people who actually like jello...

And we whipped up these valentines for Vada to give to her classmates. So easy!

And here's our one bit of decoration around the house - a garland I made BB (before blogging) last year with Robin.

Each heart has three layers of fabric - prints for the front, white felt for "batting", and some old pink velveteen for the back. I used cookie cutters to trace heart shapes onto the printed fabrics, sandwiched the layers and cut them out about 1" bigger all the way around (just roughly). Then I placed a length (about 12") of narrow red ribbon across the middle between the layers, zigzag stitched around the heart shape, and trimmed the edges with pinking shears (being careful not to cut the ribbon). After making a zillion, I tied the ribbons between them to make the garlands.

I like that it's configurable. Not that I've changed it since I made it, but if I wanted to, I could! :-)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

long time, no post...

Sorry for the long absence! Last weekend, we took a little vacation to visit the inlaws at their new place on the Southern Oregon coast, with stopovers in Portland each way. It was a long drive (about 8 or 9 hours each way), but the weather was mostly good and traffic was light, and spreading the driving out over 4 days (and 4 naps for Vada!) really helped. I'm happy to know that the trip isn't too bad, because I'm sure we'll be doing it fairly often.

If it was just me, I would have mapped out and hit every thrift store on the way. My husband is the exact opposite - he likes to get to his destination as quickly and directly as humanly possible. But if you have to stop for a break, and there just happens to be a Value Village nearby (thank you, iPhone!), why not stop and let the kid run around in there, right? I was so excited to find these pillowcases (two pink, one green), in one of my favorite prints! Score!

It actually feels like a different fabric than the sheets I already have (maybe all cotton, instead of a cotton/poly mix?), and the print is smaller and the colors are brighter. They don't have any labels inside, and seem to be hand sewn instead of mass produced. A little mysterious! I wonder if anyone has documented vintage linens? I wish I had made a record of the labels for the ones I've collected. Maybe I'll start doing that...

Anyway, here are the other 3 I have. I think these are all the colorways I've seen for this print. I just love it!

After we returned from vacation, I had the whole rest of the week off. I had planned to do nothing but sew, sew, sew. Ha! Let's see... I did taxes, sold the old toddler bed and moved Vada into a new "big girl" bed, and caught up on laundry. Then I spent two days decluttering and tidying the house, in preparation for the initial visit from the cleaners we finally hired. Then half a day of killing time away from the house while they cleaned. Yesterday, we got crazy and started painted Vada's bedroom (pink! and blue! with swirls!). It's only half done, but it's looking great! I'll share some pictures when it's complete. I managed to sneak in a little sewing this weekend, but I'll save that for another post too.

Phew! I admit it - I'm actually looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Vacation is exhausting!!