Friday, November 14, 2008

Big brother, little brother

My brother's second son was born the first day of our vacation, so I'm playing catch-up. A huge welcome to baby Sam, and congrats to Max, newly knighted as a Big Brother. I made some boy monsters for them -- the Big Brother and the Lil Brother. Big Brother is made from some of hubby's old shorts, plus some bright and cheery flannel to make his pajama bottoms that he refuses to take off. He's got crazy monster hair, a huge red monster tongue, and his ribbon claws make it look almost like he's making obscene gestures, like a naughty little monster. (But he's not, he's a very good monster really, and will even protect Max if Bad Monsters sneak into his home.)

Lil Brother resembles his big brother, yet is not at all an exact duplicate of his brother. No way. He's got his own personality and though he may look to Big Brother for some guidance on the ways of the monster world, he is ready to jump in and take on challenges. He, too, has lots of ribbon claws, a wild monster tongue, and a couple of horns. Crazy, yes, but very snuggle-able!

Miss E loved them so much that I had to make her a monster of her own. She said, "Mommy, I don't have any monsters. You need to make me one right now." I did. His name is Zorba and I still need to take pictures of him.

Mermaids and cupcakes oh my

Post-vacation has been a bit of a blur for craft projects and sewing, and I've been sew busy (ha ha) that I haven't really blogged at all! But then, maybe no one is reading! So what was I up to, you ask? For starters, I had to make more baby gifts, this time for my friend Anita's shower last weekend. I didn't have a clue what to make, so the Sunday before, I started looking at fabrics and remembered the Heather Ross Mendocino collection I'd seen. Finally found a fat quarter bundle of very aqua and orange mermaid, fish and sea life fabrics from the collection, and got the fabric two days prior to the shower. Yipes!

I've been itching to make a rag quilt, so again, I dove into Etsy for some inspiration and found a baby quilt I loved. Yes, I used the layout and tag idea, but it's not for sale, so it's justifiable. They are so simple, so soft, and so perfect for a baby gift that I can't wait to make another one! And those fabrics are just the right match for my most swimmingest friend, who is decorating her baby girl's room in orange and blue with a sea life theme.

I also did a twist on my normal dolls, making this one a semi-swaddled mermaid girl. Her arms are free to paddle through the sea as she sleeps, and that makes her just the happiest little mermaid you've ever met. She's got some ribbons to play with and a few different fabrics, and Miss E gave her the thumbs-up. (As well as many hugs.)

In addition to the doll and quilt, I made the cupcakes for the shower, and the recipe I used rocked. It's from a book called simply "Cupcakes" that I found at Barnes & Noble on the bargain books aisle last spring. I made the white chocolate mud cakes, and the chocolate ginger cupcakes. Delicious, if I may say so, particularly with the addition of some rich buttercream frosting. Ah ... and yes, Miss E helped with the cupcakes. You bet. She and I had so much frosting the morning of the shower that I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into some salty chips and crunchy carrots!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Holiday preparation

Several people have asked about placing orders for the holidays ... if you are interested, please email me. I'll deal with orders one-on-one, but knowing ahead of time will help me with planning.

Contact me at

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An art doll for Nana

My mother-in-law has this awesome art doll, handmade by a textile artist in Virginia. Last year, while Miss E was about, oh, 19 months old, Nana let Miss E play with Rita. We told her she was crazy, but hey, it's her only grandchild, so she was fine with it. Miss E talked about Rita forever, and as our trip to Arizona got closer and closer this year, she was very excited to go play with Rita. And that got me to thinking ...

Nana needed another art doll. No, actually, Rita needed a companion. And that's how Randi came into being. I worked on her in and around all the baby gifts, up until the day or two before we left for Arizona. So Randi is Rita's kid sister. She's just been through a nasty breakup and is done with men and relationships for a bit, and while she's on break, she decided it was as good a time as any to reconnect with her older sis. They haven't talked much for at least a decade, but they never hated each other. Just never really bonded. But where else is a girl to go when she's down and out and needs a friend? To her sister's, of course ... so Randi moved in with Rita, unannounced.

Rita seemed a bit shocked at first, but was glad to see her younger sib. After the first hour or so of acclimating, they hit it off quite well, and by the end of five days, they were the best of friends, as sisters should be. When we left, Rita had just told Randi that she was welcome to stay as long as she needed, and Randi said she'd take her up on that. She quite enjoyed the weather in the mountains of Arizona ...

So Randi is the basic doll pattern from the book "Toys to Sew", like some of the first ones I made for Miss E. I embroidered her winking face and was pleased that it came out exactly the way I envisioned it, which is not usually the way things go. Her dress is two Amy Butler prints with a nice ribbon sash, and her purse is a coordinating AB fabric. Her shoes were a lot more difficult than I expected, and I'd never do them in the right/recommended size again; I'd shrink the pattern like I did the dress. I did the doll at 212% and the dress at 176% (of what's in the book). I kept sewing around and around, trimming as I went, until they finally fit. I do love the ballet ribbon wraps -- it just fit for Randi!

And best of all was her hair -- a totally unexpected bit of perfection. I found the yarn at JoAnn, loved the colors that coordinated with the fabrics, and loved the chunky unevenness of it all. But I tried putting it on like the pattern said, and it didn't work at all because of the uneven texture and thick yarn. So I sewed each strand individually, and it was a piece of cake -- so much faster, so random, so perfect for this doll. I almost want to pull off Jessie's hair now and give her locks like this! The funniest part was that she was bald for so long (at least two weeks), that when I saw her with a full head of hair, I couldn't believe how different she looked. Proves what a good haircut can do, I suppose. And when I spun her around for a good first look, I laughed out loud, because I realized I'd given her hair that made her look so much like my friend Molly (High, Maw-LEE!) it was almost uncanny. No, she doesn't wear crazy makeup and wink all the time, but the hair, the hair, the HAIR -- it's so very, very Molly!

I'm not planning on making another art doll, though I suppose if the occasion arose, I would. But it was a fun experience, and I do love the final product. Miss E was so cute when she handed her over to Nana, and even cuter when she hugged and kissed both Randi and Rita farewell before we drove back to Texas.

I have to also mention the quilt that the ladies are sitting on. I think I got this right -- it's stitched by hand by either my mother-in-law's mother or her grandmother. It has the most gorgeous fabrics on it, including a few baby-themed prints. I couldn't believe the detail on this quilt and the fact that every single stitch on it is by hand! Oh, so very, very beautiful indeed!