Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sadie's Quilt

 This is my niece Sadie's quilt.  It is a labour of love that began last summer and was conveniently ready for the Express Post mailing for Christmas this past week.  The pattern is called Broken Dishes.  I consider myself to be a new sewer, having only been sewing for about a year and a half (although, I'm sure 10 years down the road I'll still be considering myself a new sewer as I look in awe at some of the projects that people have done).  I'm very pleased with the way this turned out.  In truth, when I finished the quilt top, I was so in awe, I kept asking my husband to hold it out for me to view from the other side of the room.
 This quilt started in a fairly typical Kris fashion of me thinking, well, I could do that.  I fell in love with the pattern and found a tutorial at quilting.  (Seriously, this is what I do, I have learned to sew by reading and watching online tutorials and asking my mom and my friend Jill questions over the phone and via Skype).  I have made Sadie a few other little things over the past few years and discovered from my sister-in-law that Sadie loves the homemade stuff.  (We live on different coasts of the country so it's nice, I think, to send a little bit of homemade from one home to another).  So after I made my bee quilt, I thought, I'd really like to made a quilt for Sadie.
 I had a lot of fun collecting all the fabrics for the quilt.  I knew instead of a stationary white, I wanted to use a variety of pinks.  I also knew that I wanted to back it with a soft flannel, so it would be cozy to snuggle up with.  The bolder prints are a variety of everything.  Sadie is 5, so I knew it should be something that would appeal to a little girl, but I didn't want it to be so little girl-ish that it would be too young for her quickly, I wanted it to be something that she can treasure as she grows up.  So there's really a bit of everything in there.  I found some fun polka-dots and cute little girl storybook prints.  I used a couple of fabrics that were the basis of the rag doll I made her for Christmas last year.  I also added in some of my 30's Storybook prints, the fabric from the dress I made my daughter last summer and other odds and ends that were sitting in my sewing box.  This quilt took a life of it's own.  Though it follows the Broken Dishes pattern, there is also the element of the Eye-Spy quilt as each block has a matching fabric pattern randomly scattered throughout to find.

I know the quilt is far from perfect, and I've already asked my sister-in-law not to look to closely as there are several mistakes in it.  It was a real lesson in sewing for me.  I did a lot of ripping out with this one, repiecing, and re-sewing.  And it really did come down to the wire.  I knew there was a deadline.  I wanted Sadie to open it on Christmas Eve and that to Express Post from where we are to where she is takes 3 business days, I had to have it packaged, addressed, and leaving the post office on Monday, knowing confidently that if it missed being delivered on Thursday, they could still pick it up on Friday (which is what happened).  The true test of my patience came on Saturday night as I was finishing what I thought was the second to last line of stitching, my needle broke.  Not only that, but it was my last sewing machine needle.  And I don't live in town.  Town is 30 minutes away and Sundays where we are, not everything is open.  Fortunately a lady in church heard my tale and 'happened' to have a stash of a variety of sewing machine needles, and offered to drop on by after service to see if she had what I needed.  (Never doubt that God answers prayer!).  I finished that afternoon with what was almost the last of my pink thread too!
The real joy came this past Christmas afternoon hearing my sister-in-law thank me for the quilt and tell me how much Sadie (and she) liked it.  I'm glad.  I'm also a little bit tickled because Andrea also mentioned how she wished we lived closer so I could teach her how to do stuff like that :)
The tutorial and pattern I used can be found here.  I did make this bigger that that as it is a quilt for a little girl, not a baby.  I made 8 squares for each row (64 squares total).  Each original square that got pieced off to be a 'broken dish' was 4"x4" instead of 3 7/8" x 3 7/8".
I hope you enjoy your quilt for years to come Sadie!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Celebrating Advent - Advent Wreaths

We were very fortunate last year that one of our  very handy friends gave us this advent wreath candle holder.  He made the wooden holder part and I picked up the (fake) greenery and candles at Michaels.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with an advent wreath, it consists of 5 candles that are lit during the season of advent.  Advent is the season of waiting in the Christian year.  Not only does it represent the waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ, but also, the waiting for the coming Christ.  Advent begins the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.  The 5th Candle is lit on Christmas Eve. 
Each candle represents something different.  The first candle is purple (sometimes blue) and represents hope or prophet.    The second candle is also purple (or blue) and can be called the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation.  (Some pastors will name the candles in correspondance to their sermon message of the week, my husband named his Holiness this week).  The third candle is pink (signifying that the wait is almost over) and can be called the Shepherd Candle or the Candle of Joy.  The 4th Candle is purple (or blue) and is often called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love.  Finally, the Centre Candle is white and is the Christ Candle. 
As a family we light the candle of the week each night at supper (so I keep a supply of extra candles handy).  You light the first one the first week, the first and second the second week and so on until all 5 are lit at Christmas. 
This year I made a simple mini felt banner to hang.  The candles and the holly I attached by Heat and Bond, but the flames are just felt (as felt sticks to felt nicely).  It's a great way for the kids to be involved in this season of Advent.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Homemade Advent Calendar

I've been wanting a proper Advent calendar for a little while now. I get frustrated with the "holiday" calendars that some out each year with the cheap chocolate for 32 days. I really don't know why they are 32 days (maybe someone can explain that to me). I've wanted one that lasts for 24 days. Counting down to Christmas. I wanted something that could have chocolate for each of my kids (3) as well as some way of showing the days beyond an empty square. I found this cute idea at Make It Do.Com. Hers is seriously cute and much more professional looking than mine. But I love mine! The backing is a Christmas style pajama fleece - the tree and red front are also in pajama fleece. The numbers on the pockets are in white felt. The tree and numbers are attached with heat and bond. The ornaments are hanging on little jingle bells (picked up on sale at Michael's!). Each pocket is large enough to hold 3 chocolates (the good kinds) and an ornament. I do have a layer of quilt batting in between the front and back.  My kids really love it (as does my husband).  I'm pretty impressed that I can make stuff like this now.  I've only been sewing for just over a year.  This didn't take me very long at all.  I worked on it for  a few nights.  I did hang it just out of my 22 month old daughter's reach.  It's a good thing too - she has come up to me a few times already saying, "Choc-it mama pease!"  and pointing to the calendar :)