Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1950s Bedding Bliss

Last summer while in Utah we visited my wonderful grandparents and among other treasures, 
my Grandma gave me a bound piece of my mother's 1950s childhood quilt.  I could spend hours just looking at all the different prints and dreaming of snuggling under this super soft quilt.  I love how modern and fresh the colors and prints are after 50 years.  Isn't this a brilliant way of sharing a special object among many children and grandchildren?  Now I just need to get it hung up in the perfect spot in my girls' room!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Give Me an M!

[SPOILER ALERT for New Mexico Cousins!!]
I made this reversible smock for my darling little nephew Miles, who is now officially a big brother thanks to the arrival of new Baby Otis!  The Little Mr. was kind enough to model it before we send it off today.  Love this jungle fabric and thought Miles would enjoy showing off the first letter of his name!  

I made up this pattern from looking at some vintage aprons on www.angrychicken.typepad.com.  I do have to say my favorite features are the criss-cross in the back and the vintage buttons (salvaged from a friend's mother's fabric stash) I hope he likes it!  

Use it Up, Wear it Out and Make it into Something Else!

A few years ago my favorite charcoal gray winter coat finally wore out.  The ends of the sleeves were threadbare, the buttons (several times re-sewn) had taken big chunks of wool with them when they popped off for the last time and the collar began to look lumpy instead of crisp and neat.  I begrudgingly put it in the Salvation Army pile, but then realized that NOBODY would want it!  Even Salvation Army would throw this pitiful pile of wool away!  

In a stroke of genius I realized that not every part of the coat was worn out.  The back of the coat was practically new as were the tops of the sleeves.  I felt a bit nostalgic for the Great Depression when I began to cut up my beautiful-only-to-me coat to make something else useful.  All the while the famous mantra, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" ran through my mind.  And what did I make?  A tote bag, of course.   And an over-the-shoulder bag, of course.  I didn't realize these are the only things I've been making lately until I started this blog!!!  I can sew other things, believe me!  

I love the grey pinstripe lining in the totebag--it seriously makes me so happy every time I peek in my bag!  I also cut up a pair of my daughter's favorite, yet very worn out (but not in all places!) pepto-bismol pink velvet jeans to be the lining of the shoulder bag.  She was a little surprised to see her jeans reincarnated as a bag--including the pockets!  Do you have a favorite shirt, pair of jeans, coat, etc. lurking in your closet, just waiting at a chance for a new life as a tote bag, stuffed animal, applique, etc?  You should give re-purposing a try!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Reuse, Recycle & Renew

A few years ago my friend was throwing out a pile of upholstery fabric samples and asked if I would like any of them.  Of course, I had to take a look!  Many of these fabrics were obviously from the 70s and 80s and oh so cool.  One of my favorites was this butter yellow/chartreuse/cornflower blue floral bit 'o fabric.  Also in her give away stash was this wonderful pompom trim reminiscent of my 1970s childhood bedroom.

My scavenged finds were all very lonely in my stash until I found the perfect "re-use"--a tote bag for my younger sister. She's the type who shopped at Savers and loved vintage style before it was cool (at least among the mainstream!) and so I thought she would love this print made as a tote bag for all her knitting supplies. I lined it with leftover fabric from another project and included inside pockets for all her supplies.  It all turned out so cute I was seriously tempted to keep it for myself!  

On a side note, I do love the little sister on the side of the photo peeking at what all the fuss is about.  She is definitely my most curious child and no secret, bit of news or detail gets by her!

Birthday Bags & Banners

In the past my oldest daughter has had big birthday parties.  And I mean BIG. One year she invited her entire class plus church and ballet friends.  I think 35 kids showed up!  We held our own olympics, complete with an opening ceremonies parade (with flags!), gold medals and lunch fit for champions.   So this year I was so relieved to hear that she wanted a small party.  Really small.  Just two friends invited.  It was actually the most fun I've ever had hosting a party!  We went all out.  A visit to the Aquarium followed by lunch at the nearby (and delicious!) Panera Bread and then a few more hours at the Aquarium.  
Since it was just a few girls, I was able to make the most fun goody bags.  I made each girl her own bag (tutorial coming soon!) with the first letter of her name appliqued on the bag.  These bags (filled with water bottles, granola bars, fruit snacks and a cute animal magnet) were presented to the girls when we picked them up in the morning.  After lunch, cake & ice cream and opening presents, we gave them each their very own stuffed penguin (as a way to remember our very favorite penguins at the Aquarium).  They were delighted!  

On another note, a few years ago I made a huge Happy Birthday banner for another birthday party.  It turned out so cute (and took so much time!) I couldn't bear to throw it away, so we've used it for every birthday since.  Although a bit time consuming, it was really easy to make. 

 First, buy a roll or two of your favorite sturdy wrapping paper.  Use one roll to cover the birthday party tables and the other roll to make the banner. Next, type Happy Birthday [Birthday Child's Name] and then select a different font for each letter.  Then, format the letters to be the biggest font you can print on the page. Each letter should take up one page.  Print the letters in "outline" form.  Glue to various colored cardstock that matches your wrapping paper.  Use fancy scissors to cut out pendant triangles out of the wrapping paper.  Glue pendants to the bottom of the cardstock sheets and glue on cut out letters.  Use ribbon to string letters together and enjoy!  Just fold it up and stick it in a file folder for future birthdays!

How to Corral the Mess?

I have looked high and low for a toy storage solution that is:

a) Inexpensive

b) Sized to fit our space constraints

c) Attractive

d) Flexible (not as in the material it's made out of but in terms of use in a variety of spaces)

e) Sturdy

I've finally come to the conclusion that I just need to make the "solution" myself!  I just ran across these baskets made out of vinyl (brilliant, just brilliant!) from an online shop in the Netherlands.  Check out their amazing and colorful creations at www. pukklifestyle.nl   I've seen vinyl at my local discount shop for $4.99/yd., so I may have to experiment.  What do you think?

In the Beginning

As a five year old I remember sitting at my grandma's dining room table while she and my mother wrestled with the delicate paper pattern pieces to sew me the most delightful skirt I could imagine: a reversible wrap skirt with denim on one side and red gingham on the other.   As I watched them unfold the red and denim yards of fabric I remember being so confused at how those large pieces of fabric could ever transform themselves into the picture on the front of the pattern.  I imagined how this skirt was to become the best start of my kindergarten wardrobe.  
Several years later summer vacation was a few days underway and my father must have sensed my absolute boredom and hopelessness that anything exciting would happen the entire summer.  He suggested that I learn how to sew.  My mother arranged to tutor her friend's daughter in reading if she would teach me how to sew.  I was anxious at first.  Under my teacher's watchful eye it took me two hours to cut out the most simple t-shirt pattern because I was so afraid of cutting outside of the lines.  Once a bit more confident, I became a monster.  In an effort to encourage my new hobby my father offered to buy me all the fabric I could sew, an offer that was quickly rescinded once he realized I was asking for a ride to the fabric store several times a week!  And can I just say that I haven't stopped sewing since?!!  
Yes, there have been times when I just didn't have time to devote to this obsession, but it has always been a calming, centering activity for me--one that I hope to do more and teach to my children.  I hope this blog will be a chance for me to share thoughts on sewing, life, children and other things important to me.  The name of this blog "Run 'n Stitch" comes from a sewing class I taught at our church one morning a week where the moms stitched while the kids ran and played in the gym.  I think this allusion to the sewing term "running stitch" is much like my life--I run around a lot with my four children and all of their activities and stitch when I can to maintain calm and sanity!  I look forward to this blogging adventure and welcome you to join me!