Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One Year Later

So amazing how fast this year went by since Tess was born, but that is what everyone says. It went by in double time. She is no longer a newborn, she was barely out of the hospital before that stage seemed to be over. She is a total joy to have in our family. The big kids love her to bits. Not an instant of her young life has she been without a smile, hug, kiss or gentle touch from her sisters or brother. Their kindness to her makes me so happy.
She has given me memories of a happy baby that I will always treasure. She has an easygoing nature like Patrick and the curiosity of Maria. She is determined, like Betsy, to keep up with her older siblings no matter what. She has a quick smile and an easy laugh. She loves music and dancing and sitting under the piano whenever it's being played. Most of the time she walks around with a remote control or a cordless phone in her hands, she might give Patrick some competition soon on the video games. If she is not holding a remote control, it is probably because she has found a colored pencil. She watches the girls so closely, it would not surprise me if she is drawing before her next birthday. There is so much in this little girl, just one year old, I could just burst with anticipation. I know this is why it seems to go by so fast. As much as I want to linger in these fleeting days of babyhood, she pushes forward. She is unstoppable and unbelievable. It takes my breath away to say it, Happy Birthday Tess!!

Color Wheel Quilt's

Three of these. Done. Teachers gifts. Yahoo! I promise there is some crafting getting done around here. I wish I had a photo of all of them together, but they were finished and handed off within minutes in the mad dash that is the end of the school year. Summer has finally come, let the games begin! And I say this with only a trace of apprehension, fear and maybe sarcasm.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

silhouette quilt

I had so many things I wanted to include in my last post, I didn't take the time to really document my process for doing the silhouette quilts. Since this is a project that I intend to try again, I need to make note of how I went about them, what went well, and what I would do different next time. This is an essential reason why I started this blog so I need to keep up with that stuff. I think I will, but I never will, remember how I made them. I go back and look at some things I've made in the past and I have no idea how I did them. I know this would happen with these silhouette quilts. So here we go.

First thing I did was take a side view photo of the kids. I turned them to B&W photos and printed them out on regular printer paper. I carefully drew around the profile with a black pen and then held it up to the window with another piece of paper on top and traced the whole profile outline. Then I used paper-backer fusible webbing and traced the outline one more time. I then ironed the fusible onto some black fabric and then very carefully, with very sharp small scissors cut out the silhouette. Everything up to this point is going good, looking good.

Here is where I have some concerns about my design. Because I wanted the silhouette to be set against a white background, I ironed/fused it to some linen. This is something I think I should not do again, it just made for too much unmanageable poofyness in the end. So anyway, I small zig-zagged very, very carefully all the way around the profile. I ironed more fusible to the back of the linen and then cut it out in a big oval. Then I ironed the big oval onto the blue and white striped linen.

For the cross stitch I found some letter designs somewhere on the internet (can't find that link) and I used something called waste canvas to help line up and count the stitches. It's basted to the linen and then I did the cross stitches and when it was all done I undid the basting and the waste fabric can be pulled out thread by thread. I love the way the cross stitch looks, but woo-boy does it take a long time to do. I ironed this onto some more fusible, cut it into a circle and ironed it onto the striped linen. Again with the bad poof.So it's all ironed down, and zig-zagged down and I make it into a quilt sandwich. Here is where I made another mistake that I think many quilters probably think about doing, but don't try because they know better. Before quilting, I attached the binding. It just makes, yet again, for a lot of extra, unwanted poof. I hand quilted it in moderately spaced lines, but if I did more I think the poof would have turned into wrinkles. In a last ditch effort to control the poof, I did the black running stitch around each of the white ovals. It looks good at least. So finally I think that it looks good, but I need to go about it much different next time for a smoother result. Too much fusible web makes the quilt too stiff. Lesson learned.

Here is what I'm working on right now. Another go at a color wheel quilt. Of course the original idea is from Last Minute Patchwork, but I didn't use that pattern. I wanted something smaller like a wall hanging, and frankly I thought that I had I better idea for the construction. I used a 9 degree wedge ruler. In my world, math has always been much better as theory than in practice. It should take 40 wedges to make a circle in theory, but in my quilt it took 41. So maybe my construction idea is not really better. I thought these would make great teachers gifts. Jim's trying to talk me out of that idea. It always comes back to the same question of whether people really appreciate handmade or not, so why invest the time if you're not sure?

Here is a perfect example. I'm at a garage sale this weekend and see this darling painting for $5. I pick it up to pay and the woman is like, "Oh that's an original, I had papers, but I can't find them." So you're selling it for $5? It's obviously hand painted on a hand stretched canvas. The frame and matting are all done beautifully and by hand. There was nowhere in your home, or that of a friend, or your adult children for this painting? Am I missing something here? It's not ugly, right? What is wrong with people? What kind of price is $5?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hello long forgotten blog. Sorry about that long break, but April was busy. It went by in a flash, but that's OK because now spring is here and it is beautiful outside today. We have to wait a long time here in Chicago to see the flowers that the rest of the world has been enjoying for weeks.

April was full of celebrations mostly centered around my good boy Patrick. He turned 8, so there was a birthday party of which I have no pictures. Imagine cute 8 year old boys playing baseball and talking Pokemon. Little League has started so we've been going to lots of games and practices. Such a fun family thing to do. I need to remember to bring my camera because it is so cute and fun and often beautiful at the end of the day in the sunset.

Finally last weekend Patrick had his First Communion. We made an adorable banner for the church, but I didn't get a photo before I sent it out of the house. Really it was very cute. Patrick was chosen to do the second reading for the Mass. In front of a large standing room only packed church he went up there and read with complete confidence. He floored me. Again no camera. Nice job Jenna. Here is a shot my mom took.

As a gift for him and his cousin, who also had her First Communion, I made these silhouette quilts. I think they came out pretty cute. I was surprised at how much they actually resemble them. I didn't realize how unique they would look . I guess I figured , at their age, everyones' profile is pretty much the same. Head, nose, chin... how could there be that much variation? Below the profile, I did cross-stitch monograms and the year. This gave me a whole new appreciation for cross-stitch. It takes a very long time. Just one fancy letter took me an hour to complete. Anyway, I love the way it looks so it was worth every minute. I'm sure you would think so too if you could see any detail in these terribly grainy photos.

So the month that was all about Patrick is over and we move on to the end of school, two more birthdays, and more baseball and soccer. I expect I will still be busy, but I will try to be a better photographer, family documentarian, and craft project finisher.