Five years, I say. You ask, so “where’s the short cut”? They’re throughout the quilt you see. And the cumulative nature of all of the supposed short cuts made a project that could never end and that I despised working on… right down to binding the blasted thing. Here is a list of the mistakes I made and the “short cuts” thought I was taking to fix them–which resulted in more mistakes–which resulted in more shortcuts–lather rinse repeat.

  • Picked a pattern and cut pieces over several weeks as I had time–at some point I started making my cuts not from the instructions but by looking on what I cut in the last cutting session. Which evidently at some point I had screwed up on, so the blocks were no longer going to be proportional for the pattern I had wanted.
  • No biggie, right, take what I have, sew it up and see what we’ve got. But when you don’t know where you’re going, sewing up it a wee bit more challenging.
  • Stop sewing and start arranging the mismatches and decide on what I’m doing.
  • Re-sew several not comporting with my new plan. Finish sewing the rest.
  • Lay them out. Have my then four-year old insist that she wants the squares arranged a certain way. Detest the layout. Detest the red. Detest that fact that I had long ago destashed all of the fabrics that made up the pieces I was using–no extras, so use what I have. Detest the Red.
  • Sew together. In incorrect order, evidently without precision in my 1/4 inch seam. Sigh. Unpick, re-sew. Do this 3 times over the course of a year and a half while I’m in law school.
  • It’s together. Hooray. Let’s slap some borders on it. Let’s play it by ear. Let’s take my then 5-year-old to the quilt shop and as I’m looking at fabric, in innocence answer her when she asks what we are looking for. She has a decided opinion. I hated the fabrics she wanted then. One of them I’m still lukewarm on but it actually goes well with the quilt. The polka dots I originally hated–too bright! I love now.
  • Slap them on the quilt, study it and think–I don’t think that’s square.
  • Bring then 6-year-old daughter to get backing fabric–have her insist on some unplanned for flannel on the back with monkeys and other critters. See the quilt that could have lasted her until her teens now have a more childish shelf life. Buy–just enough. (See the monkeys under this other blanket??? At my old house even!)
  • Sigh. Extra sigh. Still be living in our postage stamp sized place and decide to baste it with 505 spray on an autumn afternoon on our porch. With dead leaves swirling everywhere. With dead leaves falling onto the 505’ed areas as I struggle to get the layers squared. After a particularly huge gust of wind, decide that it is “good enough”. Realize later when I go to quilt it that the backing is too small on one side. Decide we’ll cut the borders down to match later.
  • Start quilting one afternoon in our postage stamp sized house–even with my fancy new machine, the quilt is hanging over the edges of my sewing table in a way that is pulling on the needle as the fabric is going through. Try stippling though it’s been years and years since I did any. Disaster. Disgust. Roll it back up and put it in a tub.
  • Move.
  • Have phenomenal sewing room. Have unsightly tub that won’t close because the quilt is in it.
  • Decide to quilt it. Unbloody pick the bit of stipple I did and instead try Oh Franson’s loopy flowers. But on my quilt they’re “sloppy flowers”. Have my 14-year-old niece comment that it’s so cool I wasn’t fussy and making them look exactly perfect because that wouldn’t look cool. Right. I totally planned that. Go to Oh Franson’s tutorial a few times and covet her ability to make things look like she didn’t freehand. Remember to do some half flowers falling off the borders so it looks like they extend to the edges of the quilt. Get tired of making the flowers pretty fast. Do them a little too far apart.
  • Finish quilting and remember to cut the borders… by just over an inch on most sides–effectively destroying the half flowers I had made in the prior step.
  • Take purchased bias binding strips I’ve never used before (I have historically always rolled my own). Pin it on, discover that I’m roughly 30 inches too short. Since I didn’t roll my own–I don’t have any of this fabric to make more from. Sigh. Decide it will be a whimsy (which I hate) corner with interest and use a different fabric. Spend a bazillion years and unpicking time before I admit that I no longer remember how to sew down binding or mitered corners  before I get a book out say “Ooooooohhhhh!” and finish. Stay up late on a work night hand sewing it down. Throw in laundry. Have it NOT bunch up all crinkly and lovely.
  • But have the child loves it just the same.
  • Feel like a free woman out from under the weight of unfinished project.
  • Turn to baby blanket I MUST finish!

This year we were inspired by heather bailey’s Nicey Jane line–which just happened to be fresh and new when I went a-shopping for the summer skirt making.  I made one skirt that was specified by dear bunny–please make it blue, really blue (meaning, something that is vibrant), with polka dots and maybe just a few stripes. Hmmm. Well. My favorite northern quilt shop did not let me down, and I made this:

It is loosely based now on Oliver+S’s Lazy Days Skirt tutorial. Although I really use it only as a starting point for measuring initial cuts of fabric. And, it seems like I won’t be getting much mileage out of this pattern at all anymore–Bunny has officially decided that while ruffles are cool–twirlability is better. And, according to her, there’s no such thing as too twirly, which, silly me, had thought last year.

These are the three skirts made with the House on Hill Road’s Twirly Skirt pattern. Like last year, I skipped the drawstring and v-opening, but unlike last year, I made the contrasting band for the elastic. She’s in love with these–can you guess which her favorite is? Yeah, the shocking blue with the hot pink vine things running up and down. You got it in one 😉

Subsequent to picture taking day, Bunny and I were at a fabric store and she saw some yellow “bug” print as I call it in Debbie Mum’s garden line that’s out right now. It was on discount, and I had just purchased the Favorite Things Little Hip Skirts pattern–why not give it a go. I’ll be taking pictures soon and having a review of that pattern.

Now onto making a few things for yours truly 😉

and that I love to write. Yeah, that would be September. Or, now. Sigh. What a summer. I can’t believe it’s all over but the weather turning much cooler. Bunny is back in school–which, oddly enough, is way more manageable for this mama than camp. Seriously, that about killed me.

So now that school has been back in for a whole week, I’m managing our first crisis of this school year: hubby’s car, his non-piece of shit Mazda 6 with less than 70,000 miles and only 6 years old died. Died as in dead. As in fork out $5000 for a new engine or forever let it hold its peace. Sigh. And cars for clunkers effectively reduced my options in car lots. Sigh. So i’ll be helping the economy along in my own sweet way some time this weekend because this family can’t make it on one car alone. And I will never buy another Mazda again. Their reaction to our issue was beyond lame–which is stupid because my last 3 cars have been Mazdas and I was super close to deciding to get another one later this year when I want to replace my piece of shit 10 year old car.

In other happy news, I am almost done with a sweet little baby blanket for a friend whose daughter is 7 months. And I started working on a version of this lovely embroidery pattern. I hate the cushion that they do, but I was thinking of making a lap quilt with 9 large embroidered blocks with this one in the center. Then I’ll do one block of each type of flower. I think. 😉

I’ll be back with pictures soon–including a lovely stack of yummy fabric I bought this weekend at my LQS’s sale.

My grandmother was the type of person who has seen it all. She felt deep pain and grief and distress in her youth and immense joy, happiness, and yes worry and concern in her adulthood.   Her mother died giving birth to her and she and her older sister were fobbed off on a woman with her own biological children when their dad abandoned them.  That lady had enough problems and so sent my grandmother and great-aunt to an orphanage. And there she stayed, in the dust bowl area of the US during the great depression. Life was very bleak. Her older sister quickly learned that education was the way out and so she studied and encouraged my grandmother to study as often as she could. I know all of that from my great-aunt. And then there are holes, holes from when my great-aunt left for California to become a nurse and somehow, my grandma left the orphanage in her early teens and made it to a sleepy town in the middle of Missouri. She refused her whole life to talk about those years. Eventually she came to the attention of a woman my whole family affectionately referred to as Granny. A social worker and teacher, who took my grandmother in as a “work-as-you-go” boarder. The work was very light and easy though. Granny only ever required that because my grandmother wouldn’t take charity from anyone at that point.

She worked and studied at home. She never went to high school, but she learned all of her subjects from Granny. Granny introduced her to the “right sort” of teens in the community. Teens who were ahead of their time, not letting old backward prejudices influence them against befriending my grandmother, despite her background. And she flourished.

She started dating some of the boys in her neighborhood, casually-rarely going out more than a few times with the same boy. On one group date, a couple of banged up football players from the local college hopped on the side boards of the car she was in and jumped off at the hosptial for stitches. One of those young men asked around to find out who she was, and when t a promptly asked her for a date. She agreed. They went to the soda shop, went for a walk, got to know each other just a little bit. My grandfather left my grandmother at her doorstep and told a good friend of his “I’m going to marry that girl someday.” And so he did.

It certainly wasn’t always happy ever after. She still had to work hard through the many lean years they had. And I’m afraid that alzheimer’s hit her much earlier than any of us really like to admit to–so she probably only had a few years to enjoy the relative luxury that she lived in for latter part of her life.

She died just over five years ago now. And my grandfather just went with her.

She was a spectacular woman. Strong. Fiery. She didn’t put up with much crap. And she was hilarious. And loving. And resourceful. And she didn’t really care much what people thought–so when she rode the riding lawn mower by accident into the lake their house was next to, well… sometimes things go that way. She had a beautiful smile, striking eyes, and the vigor of youth well into her latter years. She was fair with her children, loved them, but didn’t affirm anything ridiculous.

I hope to be like her. More gracious. More loving. Stronger.  I loved her. And I honor her for showing me what a mother relationship should look like.

After being excessively frustrated with that blasted wallet, I decided that I needed something that was nearly guaranteed to turn out well. Something that didn’t need a lot of fussing. But something that was slightly out of my comfort zone. And the idea came: the apron, the little half-apron that bunny has said she wants for dressing up like little house on the prairie. I’ve had some nice cotton fabric, with pre-embroidered pink flowers on it forever and wondered what to do with it. Well this was perfect. And the “out of my comfort zone” parts: 1) no pattern (as if you really need one for this) and 2) I busted out the scary looking ruffler foot that I bought about 4 years ago and never used.

Here are a couple of samples of the finished product:

View oneView twoView three

Do you love how perfectly even the ruffling is? The ruffler foot was really easy to use, especially after watching this tutorial from Bernina (Bernina has videos demonstrating the use of most of their feet at their site). You can make things look really gathered, slightly gathered (like I did for the apron) or more of a pleated look. You can also ruffle while simultaneously attaching to a flat piece of fabric. I didn’t do that with the waist band because of how I wanted to construct this, but seriously–how cool is that?

The waist band is an adaptation of a purse pattern I found with an awesome way to 1) extra pad handles and 2) avoid the nasty sew inside out and then use a pin to pull a very small tube right sides out. I’ll do a little tutorial on it some day soon, but the idea is to cut the width of your fabric twice as wide as you want the finished product. Then you iron it in half and fold the outsides half again to the inside (Yeah, i don’t think I’m following either), then you fold the whole thing and stitch up the outsides wiht an edge stitch. Voila, finished looking strap with no turning. Ok, I just re-read that. There is a tutorial with photos in our new future here.

It seriously took me about 20 minutes to put this thing together from first cut of fabric to attaching the waistband. And all because of the lovely, scary-looking ruffler foot. I am making an affirmative goal to find another project to use it in ASAP. (Oh, but, uh, make sure you have cleared your prior settings before using the foot, especially if you had the needle position off center. That is some serious metal on that foot, but it snapped my needle right in half and dented (with a small hole even) the actual metal near the hole of the ruffler mechanism. I bent it back out but, uh, you might want to avoid that.)

And the best part of this project (other than it having turned out well, despite my crappy sewing before and other than an unexpected thing to throw on my Christmas pile) is that I have just the right amount of fabric to make bunny another fabulous twirly skirt in the spring using House on Hill road’s fab tutorial! Hurrah!

I just laughed so hard I almost gave myself an asthma attack and almost pee’d my pants. Seriously hard laughter. Laughter is good. That kind of laughter I fully believe adds years to your life. And yet, I so should not have done it. But I just couldn’t control it. Poor bunny.

Hopefully, in the morning, she will have no recollection of having 1) sleep-walked, 2) taken off her pants and pull up, 3) put her pull up in the shower, 4) wandered into the living room by the book case and 5) our having awakened her before she could piddle on the floor. Of course, when we first found her all we knew is that she was naked from the waist down and about to pee on the floor. So you’ll hve to excuse me that as I watched my husband go around the house looking for her pants and finding them no where, and then my finding htem in the shower, I just lost control and changed from concerned mommy into laughing hysteria.  And heaven help me, but if she remembers it she will so know that I was laughing in her general direction. We’ll add this to the therapy bill she will one day present me.

So here I sit, debating as to whether to get her and bring her to our bed tonight in an effort to assuage my guilt. And yet, I’m still snickering a bit from time to time.

I’m really tired. Can you tell?

Bunny lost her first tooth a few days ago. She was delighted with the whole toothfairy concept and told me that she had heard a flutter and saw a shadow in the night. I think that’s the best part about this age–the willingness to believe in things whole-heartedly and let the magic take over. Of course, that’s not without its pitfalls too.  Last night we were waiting in the car for a while for something and I guess she had been looking t the gaping hole in my dashboard from where some idiot broke into my beater car about 9 months ago to steal the 10 year old, low-end factory installed stereo.  We have talked about my asking Santa to buy me some new “music” for my car this year. Her idea. Well, she mentioned again last night, and I said, well mommy might ask for a new fancy camera instead.  Without mising a beat, she said that I could ask for both and that she knew I had been pretty good this year, so i might get both. Seriously, how does that not melt the heart? Well, I just went on with my usual: we’re frugal sort of speech. That would cost too much, blah, blah, blah. And clever girl that she is said: “but mommy, they’d be from santa clause.” Uh, whoops. That is what we were talking about after all. I quickly back-peddled and said that adults had to pay Santa for their presents… the thrill was not knowing what you would get ??? And that Santa needs help to pay for his supplies and so forth. She bought it but man, that was a close one.

My own mother is in town for a little bit. I did not have a good realtionship with her growing up. And have only had a good relationship with her at times during my adulthood, but it’s still good to see her from time to time. Bunny adores her. Every time she comes though, i can’t help wondering what to do so that bunny and I are never the way my mom and I are.

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