Monday, December 24, 2012

Night Before Christmas

Apart from some cookie baking this afternoon, I'd say I'm ready. 

Cody has been a sneaky dog and already scouted out and stolen one chocolate orange!!

This is my first ever quilting project when I was learning how to quilt (from a book).  I worked through the book in preparation for making a queen-sized quilt for my brother and his wife as a wedding present.  There were lessons to learn different techniques in the book, and I made up these blocks and put them together for my Mom in a tree skirt for Christmas (1991). 

I used whatever scraps of fabric I had back then ... which really wasn't much!  No designer brands of fabric here, but I'm still sort of proud of what I pulled together without spending an extra cent on it.

I did it all on the sewing machine (even the quilting), but quickly realized that I wasn't happy with the machine quilting.  I left it though, but if I were to do something like this again, I would definitely hand quilt it.

My favourite block was this one the "Memory Star"

This is one of those things that you make for someone never expecting it to come back to you.  When my mom passed away, and I found this in her closet, it was a happy find, and brought back memories of happy Christmases at my parents' house in the country with this tree skirt around their tree each year.

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Christmas Makes

My mom was a real nature girl, and used to collect bird feathers that she found on her walks through the woods.  She got me interested in both birds and their feathers, and even I started a collection of feathers when I was younger and living in the country.  That habit died out for me when I moved into town, but I still have my treasured shoe box full of feathers - some that I found myself and some that Mom would bring home for me.  But what to do with a shoe box full of feathers?!

Then I saw this neat idea on The Crafty Crow a while back and filed it in my muddled brain as a good Christmas decoration. 


I have quite a few more feathers than this person (I have Mom's now too!) and made mine like this! 

These clear glass ornaments are tricky to photograph, but I think you get the idea.  I used a flat disk rather than the round globe.   I loosely sewed the tip of most of the feathers together so they would not all sit in a pile on the bottom, and brought the thread through the silver clip top (oops! you can even see it!).  And then a couple of loose feathers are floating in there.   

This one I'm sending out to my brother in BC.  These are feather's from our mom's collection from some of her favourite birds that lived in our woods.  Downy woodpeckers, goldfinch, cedar waxwing, ruffed grouse, blue jays and cardinals.  Our woods were very colourful!!   I think my brother will like the sentimental value :)

I also knitted up some quick coasters to go with some mugs for my bro.  I made these from a very quick pattern here

Although I knit my coasters from cotton and didn't felt them (obviously...cotton!).  I like how the pattern shows up with the increases on this little project.  It'll add just a little bit more to the mugs and hot cocoa mix I'm packing up :)

....and now back to wrapping and packing!!

Thanks for dropping in!!

Wendy :)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Christmas Pillowcases

I have two little nephews who live on the other side of Canada in Victoria, British Columbia (I'm in Ontario).  I like to send them some special things at Christmas since we don't get to spend much time together. 

This is one project I always like to do.  It's quick and fun, and kids love to get them.  I'm going to use the cases as a gift bag for other items I'm sending.  Then the boys can put these cases on their pillows at the end of a long Christmas day...nice to fall asleep on something homemade :) 

I add a bit of trim to the pillowcase, and a small pocket to keep some special someone close (and in place) during the night.  So one small sewing project I can check off my list, and now to get that parcel in the mail by tomorrow!!

Here's a little Christmas decoration we made with a homemade pom-pom and some thrifted beads.  I like how they turned out :)

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thrift Store Finds

A little thrift store shopping on the weekend yielded a few nice finds.

A lovely maple rolling pin, not an old one, but good and solid with such nice curvy handles.  I have a 'thing' for old rolling pins.  I love all their cracks, bruises and memories, some known, some just a fanciful thought on my part.  Just imagine all the special pies and cookies these rolling pins have shaped over the years!  Love the black-handled one :) 

A very heavy lidded cake plate that I've been searching for for many years.  Can't you picture some pretty Christmas cookies and squares towered underneath that lid?

I love blue glass dishes!  This pretty set is thick glass and will look so nice for Christmas dinner!

So sparkly!  I love it!

Was thrilled to see this old thread spool holder!  It's just cheapo plastic, but it was kind of cute ... and it was full of these spools, and that was the real draw!

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hexie Stool Cushion

I finished up my hexie project ... a little fitted cushion for a small stool. 

I quilted the top and added some piping and a side edge that is gathered with an elastic underneath. 

Under the cover are eight layers of quilt batting.  Now that it's finished, I'm wondering if maybe I should open up the backs of the hexie flower and stuff the 'petals' with more batting so they don't look so wrinkled ... hmmm maybe.

But I'm glad that it's finally together, and it's quite comfy to rest my feet on while I enjoy an afternoon tea!

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pinecone Wreath au Natural

After struggling with my pinecone wreath, and having difficulty keeping the little beggars secured tightly to the wire wreath base after trying various methods, I finally googled "pinecone wreaths" and found a very thorough and clear tutorial here by Felicia Kramer (thank you Felicia!!).  Felicia has a wonderful blog Another Bright Idea that I got all wrapped up in after reading the tutorial.  Anyway, I gathered all my supplies, large pinecones, small pinecones, wire wreath form, florists wire and needle-nose pliers.  

I was noticing some tiny bugs stretching their legs and wings as they warmed up when I brought the pinecones inside the house.  So I first laid all the cones on a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil and baked them at 210'F for 25 minutes.  I had gathered quite a few pinecones, so this process took a while.  The house smelled lovely ... a very delicate warmed pine scent ... mmmmm.  The baking not only destroys any bugs (sorry bugs), but also dries out any of the sap that is still leaking from the cones.  You don't want a sticky wreath!

Next I sorted all the pinecones by size so that each row is of relatively uniform size.  I lay them around the wire base in three rows.  The outside and inside rows of pinecones will be attached facing upwards, and the middle row of pinecones will be laid on their sides a bit (although they're standing upright here during the sorting so I could see they were all the same size).

It takes a bit of effort to wire all the pinecones on.  I used florists wire and first attached it to the wire base at a cross-piece, and then started wrapping using a continuous piece of wire first around the base of one cone, then through the wire base, then through the next pinecone and so on.  You really do need the needle-nose pliers to pull that wire tight!  You also have to be careful not to crush the pinecones as you yank on that wire!  The base of the pinecones has to be pushed firmly into the wire base, and also into the sides of each other.  They have to sit very snugly and they shouldn't wobble or flop around. 

If you find that one pinecone is wobbling, it will start to loosen the pinecones around it.  I found this happened a couple of times, and rather than be sorry later, I went back and unwound all the pinecones that were affected and tightened them again.  You can see from the back how snug they are fitted together.

After working the outside row, then the inside row, I worked on the middle row.  These pinecones I lay tipped over to one side all the way around.  I then wired them through the middle of the pinecone and onto the wire base below.  Tricky to do, but patience is key!  I heard a fair bit of crunching noises as I worked on the wreath, and worried that it would be sort of mashed and mangled looking.  But it turned out fine.  If there are a few broken seed pods here and there, it doesn't show. 

To fill in any little gaps where the wire base or florists wire was showing through, I took my tiny pinecones and hot glued them into the gaps in a random order. 

On Felicia's tutorial she had spray-painted her wreaths in beautiful colours.  I thought they looked good enough to eat!!  Especially the pink one!  I didn't think my dad would like a painted wreath, however, and left mine natural.  He's always loved natural settings and the beauties of nature in their unspoiled state.  So I just added a few fake berries (so natural!) for a bit of colour, and made a nice plaid bow for the bottom. 

I've never been very good at making bows, and decided to just buy a pre-made bow from Micheal's craft store, thinking it would be better looking.  But their "custom-made" bows were just awful, and I wasn't about to pay $19 for one!!  So I bought some wire-edged ribbon instead and worked away at the bow while watching television.  I just figured it out on my own, and that wire edging is great for holding it all together.  I was quite happy with the results.

And here is the completed wreath!

I was really happy with this project.  The cost was minimal as I only had to buy the wire frame, ribbon and berries.  I already had the florists wire.  The pinecones I collected for free in my neighbourhood, and I probably have enough left over to make another wreath for myself!  The actual work of wiring the wreath together took me only 2 hours.  It was a bit frustrating at times, but it all worked out in the end. 

I took it to my dad yesterday to put on his door.  He lives in a retirement home now and the door to his room was looking vacant and unloved compared to all the other residents' Christmas wreaths and finery.  When I presented it to Dad with a broad smile on my face, he said "Where's the colour?!".  And here I thought "natural" was going to be the way to go.  sigh

My dad has Alzheimer's, and one thing (among a million others) that I have noticed is that his likes and dislikes have altered.  For example, where he used to hate animals (although he must've loved us very much to provide us with many animals growing up), he told me recently that he "always loved dogs, but your mother never wanted them around".  I laughed out loud at that because it was most decidedly the complete opposite.  But I think it's nice too that he has now softened towards my dog, where as before he wouldn't hesitate to boot any dog away with a swift kick.  It seems he has also turned to bright colours!!  The fact that his eyesight is dimming too may account for part of that.  The natural wreath was a bit dull looking in his eyes, but I told him I'd bring something in next week to brighten it up for him.  He was very touched that I had made it for him, however, and that was worth it to me :)

Thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting Ready

Everything here is on it's last burst of glory, and much of the fall splendour is now dwindling.  These bright berries always ripen just before Christmas and make a nice welcome at my front step:

The spirea is clinging tightly to its final showy gown:

A neighbour's rattling poplar has lost all but the uppermost jewels:

And the maples are now bare with the wind whistling through their skeleton bones:

All leading me to one persistent thought ... winter is soon upon us, and with that ... Christmas.  Time to be busy and get some little things made up.

I'm finishing up a small project with the extra hexies I made:

Two little somethings in the works:

A bit more machine sewing before completion (never enough time!):

I gathered some pinecones this week, with another project in mind for my father:

You see where this is going, don't you?  Together with little pieces to be cut out, stitched together, and embroidered.

Wandered through the thrift store recently, and found a few interesting bits.  These beads I would like to make into some sort of garland, not necessarily for Christmas, but for year round.  I'm thinking of adding some wooden spools with a little extra something wrapped around them, but will share more when I have more completed.  These beads are from the 60s or 70s judging by the "macrame" label on the tub.  I once made a macrame lampshade for an art project, and my parents lovingly kept it on a lamp for many, many years.  I remember my fingers worked into blisters braiding that rough hemp. 

Another thrift store find ... who can resist gingerbread?!  We always make a gingerbread house at Christmas, and I never let the kids eat it because I figure they'll break their teeth on it once it's been out for a while.  My kids have always resented me for this, but this year I am relenting and I told them if they make a house, they can eat it too.  It scents up the kitchen so nicely.  This book had some interesting possiblities.

And more thriftiness ...

This book has some very inspirinig ideas for quilting etc.  I plan on working through some of the projects through the winter months.

And this brings me to my Christmas cactus, which is blooming just ahead of the busy season, but never fails to impress us all. 

Such beautiful blooms! 

So goodbye Fall, it's been yet another brief but beautiful encounter, and we look forward to seeing you again next year.

Thanks for stopping by :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mantle Clock

My grandmother had a lovely little mantle clock, which my mother inherited from her, and she placed it in a spot of reverence atop the china cabinet.  My father, who always likes to fuss with things decided he could make this clock "more better!!", and proceeded to ... well ... destroy it.  He chopped off the delicate flared sides, took out the clock works to fix them, and was surprised that when he put it all back together it didn't work anymore.  So it sat on top of the china cabinet for many more years with its butchered sides, and I'm sure my mother ached every time she looked at it. 

Eventually, my parents came to sell their country home and started getting rid of things ... sort of.  My mother decided the little clock was beyond beautiful any more and beyond any sort of repair and tossed it in the bin for garbage.  I hated to see the little clock go, and quietly retrieved it and brought it home.  It sat on my bookshelf only as a little curio, with no glass covering its face, no hands telling frozen time, and no life left in it. 

Shortly after my mother died, I was compelled to bring the clock out to the kitchen, and saw that the works inside were not bolted in and I removed them and set them on the counter. 

As I looked at the works, I was intrigued by all the gears and cogs and thought it would make a nice little display outside of the clock.  All of a sudden, the clock works started whirring and turning!  It was slightly eerie and surreal, as these works hadn't moved in many, many years!  I stood fascinated and watched the clock give its last little gasp of life.  It has sat still since that day. 

Another interesting thing about this clock is the cute curved back door. 

The interior handle is rather fancy. 

I started thinking of ways to use the clock and show off that door.  I thought about using it to store some of my sewing notions, but it seemed a bit impractical.  Then it came to me!  I have a tiny mouse that used to belong to my son.  A mouse with no house. 

So over the last little while I have transformed the clock into a little mouse house.  I painted up a tiny china cabinet.

Added some china and a sewing machine :)

Mice drink tea ... so ... I knitted up a tea cozy for his delicate tea pot.

The clock wouldn't accommodate a decent bed, so I made up a tiny bedroll.

... patchwork of course ...

A knitted rug to keep the feet warm.

A table big enough for mouse-sized cups of tea.

It will still sit on my bookshelf, but with a new secret purpose. 

Thanks for visiting!

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