Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Handmade Christmas: Play Silks

This year Santa brought play silks for Zoë. We bought them from Dharma Trading Company. I bought seven of the 35" square Habotai scarves and two of the 35 X 84" veils. I think some people use the satin silk scarves for play silks but I like the low sheen of the Habotai a little better. The veils are definitely thinner silk than the scarves, but that just makes them more fluttery.I dyed them in the microwave which was super fun, I have to say. I followed this tutorial. Since there was really no mess, I could dye these one at a time, here and there whenever Zoë was out of the house for a few minutes.

She loves the scarves and both kids use them a lot. Also all the neighborhood kids. We have lots of ballerinas, super heros, pirates and princesses. They also use them for fort building and as scenery for their train and building block play.

Zoë wasn't SUPER excited when she received the scarves on Christmas morning but it's clear that she's thinking of new ways to use them every day and they are used FAR more than her other Christmas gifts. So I think that they are a hit. And I want to make more.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Pay It Forward

I'm pretty late at posting this, but I signed up to Pay It Forward from my cousin Angelic's blog. You probably already know what this is but in case you don't, here you go.

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

I already received a wonderful Christmas tile from Angelic. I'm not sure what I will send, but I think you'll like it.

So, anyone out there interested?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Todd and I are celebrating our 7th anniversary today. And of course, it's been just like any other day. One year I'm sure we'll have the time and money to do something special (more than just dinner at Chili's) but this is not the year. The timing is kind of tough. It's right after Christmas so the money is all spent, and it's right before we go back to work (school starts TOMMORROW! What?!)

I told Zoë that I was going to post about Todd and she said, "You mean about how great he is?" Exactly. He is great. He's the greatest. This picture is an outtake from our wedding announcement photo shoot.

I can't express to you how amazing my husband is. He's smart, so smart. He's funny. He's creative. He's talented. And above all, he loves learning. There's never a time that he's not exploring something new, from photography to computer programming to playing the ukelele. He's just the best.

Also he helps me in so many was. For example for work he helped me make a DVD that plays images of Utah landscapes in a loop (as inspiration for my students as they worked on their projects). He taught me how to put art images onto my iPod so I can show them in the classroom over the TV. And tonight he helped me extract a two minute clip from a podcast that I'll play in class tomorrow. People think I'm so technically savy but really it's all him.

And he's about the best dad a kid could have, really. I could go on and on about this. But I'll just say that my kids love their dad and they are lucky to have a father who has given up so much of his professional and creative time to spend with them every single day.

I love Todd more and more every day and I still can't believe that I found such an amazing person. He really is unlike any other person I've ever met.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Handmade Christmas: Jams

Christmas PJs are a big tradition at our house. I made a pair for Todd and I a few years ago and they're lasting (fortunately we haven't outgrown them or anything.) But the kids get new pairs every year on Christmas Eve. I was pretty surprised that they totally were not expecting them this time. They were so excited when we showed them to them. I guess kids don't really catch on about traditions for a while.

Anyway, I couldn't be happier about these because the kids have pretty much worn them constantly since Christmas. They change in and out of them all day and wear them every night. I've washed them a few times already. Making clothing for your children is always risky business. Mostly they hate what you've made and refuse to wear it. Fortunately that did not happen this time. I think flannel and cozy have something to do with it.

Ike's picture is the closest we have to something in focus. You just can't get that kid to stand still. Also Zoë is trying her best not to laugh in the picture. It was Christmas Eve and she was pretty much twitching with excitement.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Handmade Christmas: Small Quilts

This year I made a bunch of small quilts for Christmas using my 5 year old's drawings. I have been saving drawings for a while, intending to embroider them. But I really don't have a lot of embroidery training, and although I like the way it looks so much, I don't have the patience, really. I am an immediate gratification kind of person. So I made these.

I start by tracing the drawing onto white or cream muslin. I just used a pencil because I can never find my wash out pen and I've decided to stop buying a new one every time I need one. So, trace it onto the fabric. Then I just start sewing strips of fabric around the center, log cabin style. I go specifically for wonky here and I am never very careful about measuring my finished size, in fact I just eyeball it, making it bigger than I need.

Choosing the fabric is my favorite part of the project. I just have a thing for making color and pattern combinations. Really, it's the most fun.

Then I pin a piece of batting and backing fabric to the back, um, obviously and just start sewing. I use a lot of pins and start out by sewing the picture. I just shorten my stitch, let up on my tension, and go really slow. I go over each line two or three times, and sort of break the drawings into sections in my mind so I can sew them easily.

After sewing the drawings, I change the thread to white or pink or something coordinating, and just quilt all around in a square spiral, through the log cabin parts.

Next I add any hand stitching, appliqué or buttons. The back of the snowman quilt actually got kind of messy, so I stitched another piece of fabric over the back, to hide the mess. I think maybe it just made it look messier.

Next I wash and dry them to crinkle them up and fray the edges.

Then I just sandwich them into frames. Some of them really didn't fit into the frames (remember that I totally didn't measure?) So I just cut into them until they fit, then washed and dried them again to refray the edges. Some of them fit the frame size pretty closely, and some of them are smaller so they kind of "float" in the frame, with a piece of colored paper behind them. Oh, and I actually bound one of them and added a hanging sleeve on the back. I just felt that it should be free.

There are no rules in this type of little quilt. I just looked at them and tried to think of what should go where. You probably notice influences from some other craft bloggers. With all the great inspiration out there, it kind of just mixes together into our projects, doesn't it?

This was a fun project for me, but of course my daughter Zoë felt like I totally wrecked her drawings with some of the colors that I chose. I guess that's what happens in collaboration some times.