Thursday, October 2, 2014

Postpartum quilting

I'm getting to quilt for the first time since having our baby girls. :) More details to come. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Nursery

We're at 33 weeks with our twin girls! The doctor says we have, at most, 5 weeks to go and then we get to meet these sweet little girls, and our life will never be the same. :)

Everything I have read regarding twin pregnancies says be prepared early. You get big and heavy fast and this can lead to you having a hard time getting things prepared, not to mention I had a big fear that I would be put on bed  far I'm doing great and still working 6 hour days! Since the advice is get things ready early that is just what we did.

Before we knew the genders of these little ones we knew we wanted something gender neutral for their nursery. If we had been having one baby we would not have found out gender, but since it is twins we wanted to know to be more prepared. (No one likes buying you gender neutral clothes.) So our gender neutral theme is: BOOKS. Since I work in early childhood education I have a TON of paperback books so I knew we would feature these.

On Pinterest I saw many images of book ledges being used in children's rooms. I decided I wanted book ledges so I could feature all my books and keep them safe until our twins grew to care for them. So my dad got to work making them using this tutorial. (I also had him make 2 for our living room to use as picture ledges.) We framed the bedroom window with 4 ledges on each side, 36" long and 15" apart. There are at least 3-4 books behind each book you see on the ledge...I have A LOT of books!

We didn't paint the room since it was already a neutral and calming color from when it was our bedroom and I wanted simple window treatments. We bought a cheap roller shade at Lowes and I added ribbon  and rick-rack trim to jazz it up a bit. For the valance I simply wrapped a few yards of sheer navy fabric around the curtain rod. Below our window is a simple toy shelf: a storage cube unit purchased at Target with Ikea legs so that it could sit above the heat/A/C vent.

I also fell in love with alphabet collage walls I had seen floating around on the internet such as this one and wanted to feature the alphabet on one of the walls. This was the first thing I did in the nursery, weeks before we knew they were girls. For the letters I wanted to stick to things that started with that letter for the ones I put together, such as tree branches for the letter 'T' and a ruler for the letter 'I' (inches) and the 'M' is covered in a map of Nebraska. I found a lot of great deals on random letters at craft stores and online, others my family helped me piece together such as a $1 'R' my Aunt found at Goodwill.

My Aunt also found us a $15 changing table that needed some refinishing and a little fixing up. Since our dresser is so short we wanted something a little taller for the days my mom watches the girls. She is helping us out with childcare costs by altering her nursing schedule and caring for them Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not only does the changing table save her back, it also provides more storage space for cloth diapers (I know we are crazy!). My dad fixed the shelf and drawer on this Craigslist find, then painted it white to match the rest of the furniture and updated the drawer knobs. I wish I had a before picture, it looks so much better now.
I made a cover out of JoAnns fabric for our changing pad and added a shelf above the table for wipes and cream, this was left over wood we used in finishing the basement. The final touch was our book mobile that I created after seeing this one on Etsy. I used mini Little Golden Books from my childhood along with a dissected and pieced together Pokey Little Puppy.

For our cribs we went with mini-cribs purchased from Target. These were cheaper and will convert to Twin size beds when the girls are toddlers. These are a real space saver for us, unfortunately standard crib sheets don't fit so I got to make my own. :) I used this tutorial  to make the blue chevron sheets and another set in grey with white polka dots. For the crib skirt I searched Spoonflower for book fabric and came across this which is perfect with the books and owls! I splurged on this custom fabric and bought a few yards then used a straight panel for the front of the cribs with dark grey Kona on the sides. I attached it with tape, :) and as we lower the cribs I can adjust the length of the skirts. The left over fabric is folded in my stash to use for twin size quilts when our girls move into big kid beds. :)

The shelf between the cribs was a $10 purchase that I fixed up by painting the top and sides a turquiose blue to match the owl fabric and storage baskets on the changing table. This fits board books and small stuffed toys/puppets. Just above the cribs and shelf I stenciled 'Once upon a time...' To make this I printed the letters from our computer then cut them out and traced them onto the wall with a pencil. Once I had everything up and level I filled the pencil lines in with leftover grey paint from our basement.

A few finishing touches in the nursery were added to go with the book theme. I put some stuffed book characters all with their books around the room. My three favorites: Where The Wild Things Are, The Lorax and the Llama, Llama series are featured. The frames on the shelves will hold photos of the girls once they're born and we will spell their name out in blocks on each shelf as well. (We do have names picked out, but we aren't sharing, both sets of grandparents aren't too happy about this!)

We didn't keep track of our budget but I know it was on the low end for decorating this nursery. I think this is a room that will grow with our girls for several years too. When we convert the cribs to beds the dresser will get housed in the closet for extra play space. Our house is on the small side, but I think it will work until they are 8 years old or so. Then who knows, we may need to move to a bigger home or follow their likes and re-decorate. I'm so anxious for their arrival. Everything is ready, just waiting for them!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bee There or Bee Squares Finished!

Finally I finished this long lost quilt! It was started back in 2011 when I joined an online quilting bee. Then it was set aside. Then I got it back out over a year later, put the quilt top and back together and then set it aside once more. Last summer I pulled it out of the closet and made the quilt sandwich, intending to quilt it slow and steady until it was finished. However my free motion pebble quilting was taking FOREVER and the other projects added up so it was folded up on my quilting table and buried under other projects. That is until this spring, I was determined to finish it!

Each color block is made up of 36-2" squares of a particular color. These blocks were cut by me and then sent to quilting bee members to be pieced together along with a signature block for the back. I encouraged them to swap out squares for their own scraps and was treated with a few added color blocks including a favorite on one of the red blocks...a red house. :)

The white blocks between the colored blocks sandwiched in a square of colorful circle prints. I wanted them to be square obviously to go with the other squares but since I planed to do pebble quilting I wanted to incorporate circles too. I love this addition and the variety of circle designs and sizes in the different prints. For the binding I went with a circle print as well. The colors of the circles match the colors of the square blocks almost exact!

For the back of the quilt I did a dark grey background and put the corresponding signature block behind the quilt block. I love the back for the simplicity and texture of the quilting.  

For the quilting I did the pebble design and I changed the color of thread to match the color of the block. This was very time consuming...both the dense quilting and rotating colors with each square. This was the reason it sat on my quilting table for so long. I did not enjoy the quilting process of pebbles. This spring I decided to get it into gear and finish this sucker up. As I quilted I discovered a short cut: when I finished a color block and moved on to the white block and thread I did two white blocks then two color blocks. This saved time on switching thread colors. Although the quilting was time consuming it was worth it for the texture and color definition you see on the back!

Since I had this colorful quilt finished by summer I knew I wanted to use it for the maternity pictures we had done. We took it along to our photo shoot and did a family shot on it with the columns that we were married at behind us.

We did a few shots with books too, to go in the girls' nursery. (Photos to come soon!)

I loved our photographer, Nellie Smith, and encourage anyone in the Lincoln, NE area to use her for your photography needs! Her prices are unbeatable too. :)

What I learned from this quilt: keep at it! Quilting got easier and became faster as I went, plus I learned my wonderful short cut. :)
Now this quilt lives in our basement on our comfy couch. With the heat and humidity rolling in this is becoming my favorite place as we wind down this twin pregnancy!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Finish it up Friday

Here is a small finish I had this week. Mug Rugs for a co-workers "commitment ceremony."
She loved this small gift, stating "these are our colors!" I pulled the color pallet from a fat quarter I had of Mustard Cameras fabric from the 2wenty Thr3e line.
I embroidered 'His' and 'Hers' rather than 'Mr' and 'Mrs' because they were married in an informal commitment ceremony rather than a big extravagant wedding, and it is more their style.
Then I did two coordinating striped mug rugs for guests. 
For the back I used a grey dot fabric, scraps I had left over from sheets I made for the girls' cribs.

Our nursery is pretty custom, I hate to buy the stuff at the in my opinion the crib sets are a waste of money. All you can use is the crib skirt and sheet, plus we ended up purchasing two mini cribs rather then full size cribs so for us those are worthless because they would be WAY too big! I plan to post a blog about the nursery soon, just waiting on my dad to finish making us some book ledges. :)

For now I am in the process of getting our queen size bed quilt quilted. My job tomorrow is to baste it, which involves a 29-week-pregnant-with-twins woman to crawl around on the kitchen floor as I pin this monster of a quilt. Let's just say I am finally starting to get uncomfortable, I feel huge (two weeks ago I was measuring the same as a 37 week pregnant woman!). I have this quilt, then our girls' quilts to work on...9 weeks to go to get it all done!! :) Thank goodness I am working 6 hour shift days rather than 8 now, I can rest enough to get this stuff finished!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Babies, Babies

As my friend Cristy likes to remind me and my close friends, "There will be 4 new babies in a matter of months!" My friend Jess is first, her daughter is due one month after her first born Payton turns one: the end of July.

For her baby quilt I followed the interests of Jess on her nursery pin board on pinterest (so helpful!) to create a quilt to go with her teal and coral nursery theme. It was a pretty simple quilt to make, I cut 5 inch squares for a finished quilt of 36" x 40" (or so). I was in a hurry to finish this quilt so for the quilting I did diagonal straight line quilting. It was also practice for my bed quilt, I wanted to make sure I could stay straight before doing a queen size!
I had a lot of fun picking out fat quarters at my favorite local quilt shop to make this one, the color scheme is so fun! While there I ran into one of the owners, Rick, who was very excited to here my news about twins on the way. He then went on to tell me about someone he knows with seems EVERYONE knows someone with twins and has to share the story. :)

 Jess, Megan, Myself, Cristy, & Mandy at my baby shower this weekend, it was so fun and I am so thankful for these wonderful friends!

Next up in the line up of  4 new babies are my own girls due Sep. 3rd. When we found out we were having twins instead of a singleton we were shocked, and I quickly looked for resources at the library and via internet. One thing I have read several times is that when it comes to twins strangers have no filter (as well as well meaning friends/family/co-workers). For example a co-worker has pointed out since I was about 15 weeks, "Man, you're getting big. You're going to be huge!" ...Yes, I will be! When grocery shopping Lee and I make bets on how many  strangers are going to ask, "So, when are you due?", of course at 27 weeks I measure the same as a 37 week pregnant woman with one (singleton). I have a way to go, and I'm OK with that; the bigger I get the bigger my girls get which means they will be healthy when they're born, hopefully the end of August. However, then we will be on display when out with the I guess I'll just get used to it. As one woman said regarding her twins, "Being a mother of twins is like being a circus side show. You're big during the 3rd trimester, then people are in awe of your two sweet babies." I'm so excited for my girls to be here and I will learn to be open to strangers admiring our girls. :)

Last in the baby line up is my friend Mandy's second born. She is due one week after me! Her house in Colorado is being renovated, plus her mom stays with her family 6 months out of the year, so baby #2 won't have a nursery for his/her first few months. However she did let me know when big brother Patrick moves to his bedroom downstairs the baby will be getting a grey nursery with gender specific accents. Since we don't know what baby #2 is I went with grey fabrics and then used some colorful strips of scraps down the length of the quilt. I outlined the strips with 1/2" and 1" boarders of white so the colors would pop next to the dark grey. Again, I was in a hurry to finish this quilt so I did random straight line quilting with light and dark grey threads.

For both their quilts I used solid flannel for the backing, coral for Jess and light grey for Mandy. I have used this a few times in the past, once for Payton's baby quilt. Jess informed me that she loved using this quilt for tummy time because the flannel backing kept the quilt in place on the carpet. I was really excited to here that the flannel had enough tack to keep it in place and will be using it for the back of my own baby quilts too!

I was really excited to use my new quilt label technique on these quilts too. I ordered a silk screen from a shop on Etsy, Smudged Textiles. First I made the template then submitted it to the owner, she quickly turned it into a silk screen and sent it to me. I love how easy it is to use this and how the label doesn't distract you from the quilt backing!

Friday, May 30, 2014

For the Trees

This was possibly my favorite quilt I made last year, maybe my favorite quilt so far! It was completely improvised, which was a first for me and I had so much fun with the freedom, not to mention nerves of "what if it sucks!?"

This was a quilt for a friend's third and final baby. Her oldest boys' quilts are here and here. With baby #2 we were all sure it would be a girl...I used a charm pack of Sherbet Pips for the quilt, including the pink tones thinking just maybe we'd all be right and they would have a little girl. Although I think this is still a neutral quilt, I do feel bad for MR. Ryker that he ended up with a slightly feminine quilt. :) Although, these friends are not the type to car at all.

I wanted this quilt to be neutral, but with bits of pink and purple, because even boys can like these colors. I started making it at a time that I was organizing my scraps in my office/craft room and I discovered SO MANY scraps that needed to be used up, plus a ton of tan/beige fabric. I wanted to try out piecing together a block to make a shape after being inspired by Penny's work at Sew Take a Hike, so I got to work on creating a tree with a bicycle. I loved it. Notice the little bird in the tree too?

Next I went in search of fabric to use and add to this quilt and I found these at a local fabric store. I was really lucky to find the tree fabric from the Critter Community line. The trees were perfect to go with my pieced tree block, and the recycle fabric would go great with my theme of using scraps to make this quilt.

I cut out some trees in a wonky style, then started to piece on scraps using Aneela Hoey's tutorial. Other than looking here to see how to do this no other pattern or plan was in place for this quilt. Our office/craft room was a mess during this process as you can see below!

I started to line up my tree blocks on the design wall as I worked and when I felt they were finished I pulled out all the beige/tan fabric I could find and sorted them out into piles to create larger blocks for the quilt front. I included the recycle fabric for part of the front. The rest I have saved in my stash for a future project...not sure what (I love this fabric!).

The back of the quilt is the Critter Community fabric I used to cut trees from, and the binding was left over scraps of binding from past quilts that I pieced together. So much of my stash was used in making this quilt and it felt great to get rid of pieces of fabric that were small but I didn't want to throw out. For the quilting I again stepped out of my comfort zone and did a tree bark quilting design with several knots on the quilt like the one below.


This quilt may be one of my favorites! And I am very excited to meet the recipient (a GIRL!) in one week when her Momma, family, and my other wonderful friends and their children come to see me and throw me a BABY SHOWER!

That's right, I am expecting...not one...but TWO BABIES!! Our twin girls will be here by the end of August. So you can imagine the lack of quilting and blogging that will soon be happening. (as if I have really done that great with blogging in the first place!) Also, the amount of projects I am trying to finish up before their arrival seems to be never ending! :) Two friends are pregnant with their 2nd child, plus a friend and old co-worker is due with baby #1 in December. I have A LOT of work to do this summer, more posts to come!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vroom, Vroom 2

Here is my commissioned quilt I finished last fall.

A co-worker friend of mine was due with baby number two and wanted to make the transition to a big boy bed an exciting one for her two year old. Like many toddlers he loves transportation vehicles so she threw the idea of a twin sized quilt with cars and trains out for me and both of us got to brainstorming.
I found many quilts and projects for inspiration, and she found a vehicle fabric line that went with the grey color scheme of her son and baby #2's room. Then I got to sketching a few layouts for the quilt and she relayed the idea to her husband. The only thing this fabric line was lacking was a train. So I decided I had to add a section with a train. I searched for more quilts for inspiration and sketched a plan with a train added in. Mom and Dad loved the idea and I was super excited to add in an improvised panel for his quilt.

The fabric she chose was so easy to piece together, all I needed to do was cut and stitch a few panels plus my train panel: a pieced together engine, 2 cars, and a caboose.

She loved this grey fabric and wanted to make the quilt reversible for versatility so the back was simple to put together as well, which was great for me because my deadline for finishing it was a month...right before Lee and I left for Hawaii.

I LOVED making this quilt (and getting paid for my hobby!) and learned how much fun it can be to collaborate with another person on creating a quilt. Although, I'm sure that can be difficult with some customers. :)