Thursday, February 27, 2014

things to make after a storm

A couple of weeks ago here in the PNW, the clouds opened up and dumped eight to ten inches of snow on us, for the second time this season. It's simply unheard of in our area to get that amount of snow, and especially to have it last for more than a couple of days.

By midwest standards, I know this is laughable; I think most of us were in on the joke until an ice storm followed the heavy snowfall and started breaking stuff. Branches, limbs, and whole trees fell. Houses and cars were crushed. Streets were closed down. Pipes cracked or burst. Power was out in some areas here for several days. And even so, I know it never got as bad here as it did in, say, Slovenia the same week.

Still, though the temperatures have risen to the mid-50s this past week and we've returned to a rainy winter instead of a snowy one, signs of the storm remain. There are the lingering piles of snow in parking lots plowed in the wake of the storm. There are the rivers and lakes swollen and brown like coffee-with-milk. And there are, everywhere, still fallen branches and limbs and trees that Public Works crews and private tree services haven't gotten to yet. If I called it backlog, would the pun be out of place?

Anyway, I've collected here for you, readers, who may be similarly living in areas where trees have become sidewalk hurdles, a list of things to make and do with fallen timber. There should be no shortage of it for some of us for awhile to come.

* Log Stump Side Tables:
Oh Lovely Day
Ruffles and Truffles
Etsy - Sosikian Furniture

* Log Stump Stools:
Martha Stewart

* Branch Clothing Rack:
Convoluted State of Mind
The Art of Simple
Sugar and Cloth

* Branch Buttons:
Shrimp Salad Circus
Etsy - The Hickory Tree

* Tree Branch and Twig Trellises and Arbors:
Tara Dillard
Better Homes and Gardens
Vegetable Gardener

* Doll Furniture
One Inch World
Apartment Therapy
An Every Day Story

* Building Blocks
I Can Teach My Child
Everyday Art

p.s. you can make any of these photos larger by clicking, but maybe you knew that already?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

paperman inspired love

Inspired by the 2012 animated short Paperman and all the flying machine party prep, I made this watercolor pencil art.

It happened to be ready weeks before Valentine's Day, too! I hope yours was lovely.

Monday, February 17, 2014

chalkboard coffee / train table

Due to our kiddo's recent interest in jumping off of the couch, it seemed like a good idea to trade out the rectangular coffee/train table's corners for something round. I decided on a pedestal table, and I kept my eye out at thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales for more than six months before leaping (almost literally) at this one a couple of weeks ago.

It had a mission-style base, little wooden casters, a scabbed-up top with peeling veneer, and someone had let their 24-hour reserve tag on it expire at St. Vinnie's. I paid for it on the spot; it was 50% off yellow tags day, and the table had already been marked down from $49.99 to $34.99. Too good to let it get away.

After running home to clean out my car and grab a screwdriver, the kiddo and I drove over to disassemble and load it up. It all happened so fast that I neglected to get a photo of the fully assembled table, but here it is, back home, after I'd started sanding and puttying the top.

I left the cracked veneer in place, but secured it with wood glue and putty. When the time comes to refinish it, this will hopefully make it easier to remove the chalkboard finish; I'll just have to peel off the veneer and start with the wood underneath. 

The table was dining table height, so after getting it home I had some further disassembling to do before I could cut it down by nine inches to make it coffee table height.

I measured and marked, then used masking tape along the line to help reduce splintering.


A circular saw, carefully used, took off the extra base, and after reassembling and a little more sanding, the kiddo and I rolled on two coats of zero VOC primer on the top.

That night, after the kiddo's bedtime, I painted on the chalkboard paint (tinted to the kiddo's specifications) in three coats four hours apart. I kept the windows open, a circular fan pointed towards it, the kitchen and bathroom fans on, and the central air circulating to reduce fumes. It worked really well, and by morning we were ready for the three days of curing time recommended on the label.

It was ready for chalk prep (rubbing with the side of a stick of chalk, then erasing) in time for the kiddo's birthday. Hooray!

We love it so far. The color isn't what I would have picked, but it's classroom-chalkboard-green so it doesn't offend me either. More important are the increased play area, improved traffic flow, and reduced risk of injury. Plus, super cute, in my opinion.

Thanks for taking a peek!

p.s. want to see these photos larger? just click on them.

Linking up to:

Coastal Charm

My Repurposed Life

Friday, February 14, 2014

chevron wedding quilt (part three)

**Alert! This is going to be a bit of a long post because I'll be writing today about the quilting and binding steps, as well as showing photos of the finished project. After spending so many hours on this quilt, I'm really eager to just have it out in the world. Enjoy!**

When I left you off on the progress on my sister's wedding quilt (previously written about here and here), I had so far:
• taken wedding reception fabric + coordinating fabrics and cut them into triangles
• paired the triangles together to make squares
• counted the squares and designed a chevron-pattern layout in Illustrator
• sewed the squares into rows
• sewed the rows into a quilt top
• laid out the backing, batting, and quilt top and pinned them together.

On a small scale, like a doll quilt or a baby quilt (both of which I've made several of before), this doesn't take much forethought or effort, but this was my first queen-sized quilt and the logistics were way beyond me.

When it came time to sew the layers together, I had free-motion quilting in mind. In the end, I decided to go a different way because: a) I don't own a long arm quilting machine; b) hiring someone else to do it is way too rich for my blood; and c) it would have taken three weeks before it was returned to me. So I scrapped my plan and my "out-of-my-league" ambitions, and went with something a little simpler.

I started out by "stitching in the ditch". That is, with every row and column, I stitched along the seam, hidden in the crease. Then, along each diagonal, I borrowed a method from Rachel Denbow over at Smile and Wave and stitched along either side of the seam to emphasize the chevron pattern on the back.

With a large quilt and a regular-size sewing machine, what made this possible was using thin quilt batting and keeping the quilt rolled as I worked on a section at a time. If I hadn't taken the time to keep the quilt rolled, I would have ended up with a bunchy mess or possibly with weird corners of the quilt sewed together.

I used scraps to make the binding using this method, again using a tutorial from Smile and Wave. Basically, I cut all my leftover squares into three-inch wide strips and stitched them together.

After ironing, I attached the binding by following the tutorial seen here. It looked really, really nice. By far the nicest quilt binding I've ever made. Also the most labor-intensive, so there's definitely a connection between effort and results on projects like this.

To finish things off, I embroidered a mason jar with their initials onto the back of the quilt.

When all of the machine sewing, hand sewing, and embroidery were finished, I tossed the quilt into the dryer with a couple of dryer sheets and two damp hand towels to give it a finished look, a fresh smell, and to help remove some of the cat hair my house tends to add to projects. Nothing's worse than a labor of love covered in pet hair. (exaggeration)

Phew! So the next step was to wrap it off and send it. I'm sure those of you who've attempted a project like this can empathize with that stress. I wrapped it in parchment paper, put it in a cardboard box, and absolutely covered the box in packing tape. And then I paid for an extra $250 worth of insurance, because dammit, if anything happened to it in transit, I knew I didn't have the moxie to start a new one right away and I'd just have to buy her a quilt. I had my eye on this one.

Luckily it arrived in stellar condition, and my sister loves it to bits. I hope it lasts a long time in her happy home, and survives to be the heirloom I mean it to be. 

Thanks for reading along as I tackled this! Top tip for anyone who might be thinking about starting their first large quilt: take time for all those time-consuming preparatory steps. I'm an anxious crafter and I tend to prefer immediate results, but I'm always happier with the final product (always) when I take time for things like measuring and ironing and trimming. Word to the wise.

p.s. you can make these photos larger by clicking on them, but I'm sure you already knew that, clever you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

paper airplane party invitations

Printed on vintage accounting ledger paper.

Airmail graphics for label and stamp are from The Graphics Fairy, and were printed separately on label paper and attached to the airplanes like stamps. ("6 cents" was changed to "4 cents" in Photoshop.)

Postmark is a combination of several glyphs from a font called Dead Letter Office available free from daFont, altered in Photoshop.

Text typeset in Helvetica (all caps, outlined) and Trixie.

I had brainstormed ideas for invitations for my kiddo's Flying Machines party and came up with the idea of a paper airplane invitation that looked like Air Mail. A quick search revealed that it's not a unique idea. Boo hiss. I used this design from Country Living Magazine as a template for my planes, although the result is pretty different.

If you like these but don't want to invest the time to create your own, please e-mail me. I can create a version with your child's name and party details for a reasonable rate, with a 3-day turn-around.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

chevron wedding quilt (part two)

Pinning the quilt (started this summer, last mentioned here in November, finished very recently), took a little more than four hours and seven hundred pins, which wasn't much considering I worried about how to do it for a month.

I was lucky enough to have a more quilt-experienced friend to advise me to move my furniture and tape the backing to the floor super-taut. I used high-tack blue masking tape to stretch it a bit at a time, then layered and smoothed the batting and the top into place.

I pinned starting near the center, then towards the margins in quadrants, a pin in each seam and corner, and more along the edge.

Anyway, that's it for now. Anyone struggling with how, exactly, a gigantic, room-sized quilt gets pinned together in the middle of the night before a preschooler can ix-nay the ork-way, now has a bit of a heads-up, complete with nighttime photos.

More soon! Thanks for reading.