Friday, January 29, 2010

Project: On the desk

I thought it would be interesting to show the world my current crafty/computer/sewing space. Check out my flickr page for a million notes.

I keep my Huskystar 224 on the desk at all times. To the right of it is a little plate/candle holder where I keep all my cut threads and dull needles to deal with later and a pile of mail to read. Shoved in next to the desk is the Ikea Lack table that we bought for Zadie to go with her chairs. My chair is something I got from salvage at work. It used to be in the library before the remodel and I love it. To the left is the printer and on top of it is a stack of quilt blocks from the Mod Sampler Quilt-along project. My bookshelf is a little messy so it's time for a purge or a relocation of something.

I love looking at people's spaces so just thought I'd share. My desk is actually pretty neat today. What's a mess is the wire basket rack just off to the right and a bin piled high next to that. Anyone wanna hem a bunch of pants and help me out with it?

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Project: Quilt Top Finished!

I finally pieced together the entire top to my Mod Sampler quilt from the Oh Fransson! Quilt-along. I didn't have any problems adding the sashing between the rows or along the sides. One of the reasons I may have been having problems with the freezer paper was that my pressure was set very low because I usually do a lot of applique. Instead of good control, I was slipping all over the place. You need straight lines for quilting so I moved it up a notch and got much better results.

The fabrics I was choosing from. I got rid of the teal waves and added a light solid in aqua.

After I finished the front, I measured out the larger cuts of fabric I had left over. I have a nice wide panel of the teal linen I used for the sashing, over a yard of the bird fabric (I can't find a link but it's in the "Sweet" collection from Moda), and that awesome embroidered bird that we bought during a trip to Mexico. I plan to map out the back using graph paper so it will have the right proportions. For the binding, I think I'm going to use the fabric with the little red stars. What do you think?

I'm going to take out the finished edges of the bird panel and piece it in to the teal. I'm not really sure how to do that to get the right dimensions so I'll have to do some research.

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Project: Spring Jacket

When I was pregnant I bought a bunch of patterns and books to make stuff for Zadie. Because our lives were such a mess, however, I didn't get much done. Finally I got the chance to use Baby Couture, something I picked up at Amazon for a couple bucks plus shipping.

The title is certainly deceiving as a pillowcase dress is hardly couture; the book also features pretty much the same couple of patterns but in different fabrics (weird, I know). In all, it was worth the $2.23 I paid for it (it's even less now). There is a cute jumper that I plan to make and an easy pants pattern.

For this jacket I used Alexander Henry's Starlings for one side and an organic cotton fleece that I bought for making cloth diapers (see "didn't get much done" above for why I still have yards of it) for the inside. It's technically reversible but I don't think we'll bother. For the cuffs I picked up that cute little Spring green woven from the quilting section of JoAnn's. And instead of adding buttons, I used some grosgrain ribbon to make a tie.

The pattern looked really boxy from the start so I went ahead and added about an inch to the sleeve length and lengthened the jacket over 2 inches because Z has a long torso like her Auntie. I tried the jacket on her before I hemmed it to make sure that worked. If I use the pattern again, I would probably add a bit more to the cuff so it would fold up higher. The fleece took up a bit more space than I realized. I also used a 3/8" seam allowance for the fleece layer and a 1/2" s.a. for the cotton so it would snuggle together better (note to self: learn sewing terms).

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Project: A Mention

Remember the Storybook Cape that I made for Zadie? Kathleen over on the Grosgrain blog finds it "adorable." I'm so glad she likes it. I've always wondered how the designers of the fabric I use or the patterns I sew from like the stuff I make using their tools. I always share this information with a bit of trepidation just in case someone would hate my work.

Kathleen had a baby on Tuesday so head over there and check out the pictures of the new cutie.
For more information on Project: Project, read this post.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Project: Jane

Damn you, Jane Austen, for keeping me up all night. Don't you know I have to teach an 8:30 class?

I may have confessed before that I'm a bookaholic. Once I get started on something good, I can't put it down. I've been known to stay up until morning to finish a really good book. This does not make the next day easy.

So anyway, I'm joining a book club at the local library. This is something I've wanted to do forever. What I miss most about being in graduate school for American literature is talking about books. But what I'm most afraid of in book club is acting like I have a degree in American literature. So I'm jumping in to the first meeting with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It's one of my favorite books and I find her writing just delicious. I love the movies and the scholarship and the outfits and Austen's wit. I love it all. And it's British so that should help.

I actually haven't read the book in so long that part of me thinks that I may never have actually read Pride and Prejudice and part of me thinks that's just not possible.

Last night I stopped right after Darcy confessed his love to Lizzy in Charlotte Lucas-Collins's parlor. Yum.

Any tips for the first meeting? I'll probably just keep my mouth shut.

For more on Project: Project read this post.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Project: Stitchery

Last weekend Mr. Lemon and I went to a cool little thrift store in another town and I found this fabulous little stitchery. I can't believe someone let it go -- and it was only $3!

It appears to be mounted to the backing but I don't want to tear it out of the frame just yet. Should I use it for the fabric or paint the frame and hang it on the wall? It's really lovely.

For more on Project: Project, read this post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Project: Ironing Board

photo of the shelves taken when I was pregnant. we were getting everything moved into the office

I've just spent the last hour sewing the sashing from my Mod Sampler Quilt to the first two rows. Wow. I'm beat from the ironing and the pinning! I have a tabletop ironing board on the floor next to my desk. It lives there because I use it all the time and I'm too lazy to put it where it belongs.

There is no other place to lay out my strips so after ironing my pieces, I carry them from the office I share with Mr. Lemon and the play kitchen to the living room and pin them together. Then I carry all that back to the sewing desk to put it all together. Back and forth and up and down and ouch my back hurts.

What do you guys use for an ironing board? I asked for one for Christmas but Mr. Lemon said he wasn't about to get me anything because he knew I would just not find it perfect enough and he'd have to return it. He's right. I'm picky.

We have room to store the ironing board between that shelf and the wall. I want something light that folds up easily. My last ironing board was a beast from Ikea. I hated it and it did not survive the move to this house. I would appreciate any recommendations.

For more about Project: Project, read this post.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Project: Press

The play kitchen we made for Zadie was featured on Ohdeedoh today. It's one of my favorite blogs. I usually store up a bunch of posts then read them once or twice a week during lunch. A lot of the inspiration for the kitchen came from their archives so it's nice to be added into the mix.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Project: Decisions (or, So Much Fabric So Little Time)

I bought some Oliver + S patterns a few weeks ago and realized that I was hoarding them like my cutest cuts of Japanese fabric. Yesterday I decided to break out the Playsuit pattern and go for it. It's sold as part of the Tea Party Sundress set.

Although the samples feature a solid fabric or a solid paired with a print, I really like mixing prints so I got out some of my favorites and starting messing around. How surprising that this Lizzy House Red Letter Day fabric (Pearl Bracelet and Stripes) goes so well with the Michelle Engel Bencsko Shade Garden line (Snail Trail and Sprouts).

So which one do you like the best?

(Playsuit image from the Oliver + S website.)

For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project: Storybook Cape

I'm a huge fan of the Grosgrain blog. Kathleen is an amazingly talented seamstress, designer, and photographer. I don't know how she does it. All I know is that I'm lucky enough to have a kid just a few months younger than hers so if she keeps posting patterns like this one that fit her kid, then I'm all set with cuteness.

This cape was incredibly easy to make. I'd like to say it took longer to cut out the slippery velour than it did to make the entire cape but I screwed up (what, again, really? no.). Something that should have been simple, of course, took me a couple extra hours.

So I chose this incredibly soft dark chocolate brown velour to pair with the super bright turquoise fine wale corduroy. Kathleen said not to choose stiff fabrics so I was worried about the corduroy but it was perfect to give some needed weight to that crazy velour.

Zadie came with me to the fabric store to pick everything out and she was dying over the velour. When we got home she was draping the yardage over herself like a kimono and would pile herself dramatically on top of it on the floor all while shouting, "Soft! Soft!" So I hurried to cut out my pattern pieces and stitched her up a little soft of her own with what was left over. "The soft" has now joined the entourage in the crib (Mila, blankie, Elph the elephant).

What I did wrong: Because I used such a slippery fabric, the two layers weren't holding together very well. So I decided to tack them together at the top and bottom of the sleeve holes with a horizontal stitch. I did this before sewing the bottom hem so I couldn't turn it inside out to make a blind hem, I had to pin it together and topstitch the entire thing. With velour, you need to pin every inch or it goes wild. I like to pin and I love to topstitch (as I've said before). But ugh. Then I had to rip out a few sections where it got all bunchy bunchy and re-stitch.

The end result is amazing. Zadie loves it and we can't wait for Spring when this becomes a permanent fixture in the outerwear collection. Check out Grosgrain for all the giveaways and help out her friend win the wedding of her dreams.
For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Project: Mod Sampler Quilt

all my rows stacked and pinned

A few months ago I started the quilt-along hosted by Elizabeth of Oh, Fransson! I had discovered the quilt-along because I saw Elizabeth’s quilt patterns for sale on Etsy. Her work was so inspiring that I bought one or two of her patterns and all the fabric to make a quilt for Zadie’s toddler bed (even then I knew it would take me forever to do it so I was thinking way ahead – no crib quilts here, I know me). I followed the links to her blog the day she started the quilt-along – what great timing.

I had only made one other quilt before, the patchwork crib quilt from Amy Butler’s In Stitches. Although that was technically a quilt, I didn’t really feel like I had made a quilt. There was something just not quite patchworky about it. I thought the quilt-along would be better as a beginning project than just jumping in with my precious Heather Ross fabrics that I had bought for the toddler bed quilt project.

I was very excited to get started. As I moved quickly through the first few steps and was able to keep up with the instructional posts, I photographed my fabrics, my stacks of pieces ready to go, and the different blocks along the way. I even posted everything to flickr and put them in the pool. I got all of my blocks pieced together and then I stopped. Cold.

I piled everything up on top of a storage box in the office and left it there. I’ve been looking at it become a fixture for all these months. Then all of a sudden, Elizabeth started posting on her blog more frequently. Then she started another quilt-along. Instead of going absolutely insane and joining in, I decided to finish my Mod Sampler. I got everything out and pinned together my rows. Wednesday night I sewed two of them together and last night I did two more. There are two more left and I’m loving it.

But as I’m learning more about the process, I realize that even though I’m still a beginner at this, I can do things my way. I do not like sewing on the freezer paper so I’m taking it all off and won’t ever use it again (quilters use freezer paper to help add on some width to a cut that is too short). I also don’t like my quarter inch foot so it’s coming off and I’m going to make do with my regular one.

I never thought I would learn so much by simply picking up an old project where I left off. I feel like a better stitcher and am more confident in the decisions that I make with my craft. I’ll post again with pictures when the top is finished. I’ll definitely need some help picking a fabric for the binding.

For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Project: Someone Else's Project, THE 2010 HANDMADE OLYMPICS!

The rikrack studio is hosting the 2010 Handmade Olympics. I've been a follower of their Twitter feed for some time now and just learned of this awesome event.

So here's the deal: you can nominate yourself and others in 8 different handmade events from eco-friendly goodies to a handmaking-focus blog. I just submitted my first nomination and then posted that to Twitter (I can't bring myself to type the word tweet as a verb in that usage just yet except in parentheses like this. The same thing goes for Google as a verb, journal as a verb, and blog as a verb. I'm sure I'll get over this one day but my years as a lit. major are still winning my inner battle with technology.).

Anyway, check out this post for all the details. I might even nominate myself.

For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Project: Sometimes you never learn...

Creamy broccoli was made this evening with vanilla almond milk. I guess the gravy we made that one time with the vanilla soy milk didn't taste bad enough.

Anybody have a fix for this (other than never buying the delicious vanilla flavored versions of our non-dairy beverages)? We're sure to make this mistake again.

For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Project: Cape

I made my niece Gracie a fabulous cape using this pattern I found on the Martha Stewart website thanks to my amazing crafty friend Nikole who made an even more amazing cape for her daughter for Halloween last year from the same tutorial (hopefully Nikole will agree to be interviewed for Project: Project sometime soon).

Gracie is the girliest of girly girls and just turned 5. So for Christmas I put together a bin of dress up clothes for her since I had heard she was the only girl in the neighborhood without one. I picked up a few things here and there but that box just seemed empty (even though it was overflowing with tulle). I decided a cape was in order and set out to make it happen.

The directions were pretty easy to follow but I did have some problems. The Red Riding Hood cape pattern calls for 28" of fabric but FOLDED. So that means that you must have yardage that is at least 56" wide (so from a 60" bolt). The silver satiny stuff that I bought was 60" and it worked out just fine. Then I started to cut the pink and realized that it was from a 45" bolt. So even if I were to cut the pattern and create a seam, I wouldn't have had enough fabric. Keep that in mind if you want to make a cape from this pattern -- and really do your math if you want to make one of the longer ones.

But what a happy accident. I pieced together a panel from some of my favorite and most girly of girly girl prints to extend it. If I had remembered to add seam allowances to my cuts, this would have been simple. Ha!

I used some grosgrain ribbon to make the tie and topstitched all the edges because I'm crazy and I love to topstitch. I think it turned out great and Gracie loves her special cape -- and it's reversible (if only I had a steamer).
For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Project: Me

Self Portrait: Family, Pittsburgh Children's Museum, the week Zadie really started walking

I am married to the venerable Mr. Lemon and we have a daughter, Zadie (formerly known as Baby Lemon). I have a bunch of degrees but teach technical writing (not one of my degrees) at one of the nation’s highest ranked party schools. We live on the outskirts of the student ghetto close to town and campus in a small house with an enormous yard and a summer vegetable garden.

For as long as I can remember, I have been sewing. My first project of merit was a small purse with a really big button, all stitched by hand. Out of those patches you buy at the grocery store to fix the holes in your jeans, I made bizarre outfits for my lego guys. Mom let me help her pin and cut out patterns, reminding me to leave the notches.

In college I took a course called Flat Pattern Design because I wanted to be able to make and alter my own clothes. My love of really awesome fabrics led me to make plush bellies out of satin, silk shantung and velvet. And then I wanted a baby so I started making baby clothes. People loved my stuff so I opened up an Etsy shop and the blog to promote it and the flickr to have more pictures.

It took about two years to get pregnant and it’s been over two years since then. Zadie has taken over our lives and we are not looking back. I love sewing her little dresses and puffy quilts and crazy dolls. With Project: Project, I will talk about all that process and some of the other things we consider really important to us like how we eat and the products we use, and living in a house smaller than most Manhattan apartments so that we can travel.

For more information about Project: Project, read this post.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Introducing Project: Project

So lately I have been figuring out some things. Lemon Cadet is going to see some change.

The background: Little by little, after almost 6 years here, our tiny house has started coming together. I asked myself how it was happening and it took me a while to remember that a couple of months ago, Mr. Lemon and I agreed to keep the kitchen table clean. What was once a huge pile of mail and newspaper inserts and hats and gloves and my bag and cookbooks and magazines is now a clean yellow surface. That clean spot spread to the hutch against the wall, then the side table next to the couch in the living room and then the mantle above the fireplace. What used to be this huge pile of dread that sat there sucking my life away into its vacuum of procrastination, is now where we eat dinner. And cool cookies (since we have no counter space). And decide what coffee cake recipe to make. And pin quilt pieces together.

Now I'm not saying that I'm some organization queen. In fact, that photo above depicts about 15 seconds in the life of that countertop. There's a lot going on in that space right now. And we have some messy closets and one earthquake aftermath of a basement.

But it seems I've been able to start cleaning up this mess. I have just been doing it a little at a time. And I feel a lot more free. I've been doing projects like a maniac. We have been decorating -- making the transition from living like messy college students to like adults or something. I've been sewing lots of great things and designing and taking pictures of it all.

I'm giving it a year. Project: Project is going to chronicle the new action. Look for more frequent posts (I promise they will not be this long) and tutorials, interviews and the results of my OCD research. As always, I'll continue to post about all the craftiness that I'm up to with a little bit more information on the process (pattern review), the results (what I had to change to make it work), and the accidents (happy or not). I'm really excited about this and am looking forward to it. My goal is that others will be motivated to start on some projects of their own.

Tomorrow: A bit about me.

Soon after: Some projects.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

We made a play kitchen

I had an idea of what I wanted and I sketched it out in the car on the way to Ikea. We picked up a bunch of stuff from the wonderful land of AS-IS and went to town. We spent a total of $68.04 (plus tax) and used up a lot of stuff that we had in the basement.

Mr. Lemon did all the building and I provided emotional support and detailing.

Many more photos in my flickr set. The descriptions and comments have more information as well.