Hello? *tap tap* Is this thing still on?

Well, it's been ages. Sigh. With the growing popularity of facebook, I'm afraid I've let the blog slide quite a bit. Lately though, call me crazy, I've started to miss having a dedicated spot for sharing some of the latest news - be it pix of the fam or my newest project! So, I'm going to give it a trial run again and see how blogging goes... and see if anyone out there cares anymore. ;-)


Meghan at 9 months

Our sweet Meggie's getting so big!


A Rag Quilt with Love

Back when I had the baby bug - pre-kids, mind you - my siblings started having sweet little babies whose lives I very much wanted to be a part of. As a military couple, we lived miles away from all of our family, and I took it as a personal mission to make sure these new little family members grew up knowing who their Aunt Janelle is, and that she adores them all very much! I decided that I was going to lovingly crochet/knit a cuddly blanket for each and every one of my nieces and nephews... a completely reasonable and special thing to do, right? Right.

Years went by and I would search pattern after pattern, score shelves for the perfect yarn and painstakingly make blanket after blanket. I even made a few for the occasional special friend whom the stork graced with a bouncing bundle of joy. I started having children myself and knew my kids could not be left out of the joy of a blankie made especially for them either... so off I went to buy more yarn.

As time went by, I'd begun to realize that perhaps I'd gotten in a little over my head... as babies kept coming, and much of my time was now spent chasing little ones of my own! But never able to bear the thought of leaving a single one of these darling children out, I've continued this tradition. Now, 10 years later, I have a total of thirteen nieces and nephews, with two more on the way!!! Never in a million years would I have guessed, when I began working on the first of these blankets, that I'd have 15 or more to make! As you can imagine, cute patterns and interesting yarns have become a bit scarce when you've made that many blankets. Oh, and boys are especially hard - no pink, no frills, no bows!! ;-)

When, most recently, it was announced to us that Collin's youngest brother Stephen, and his dear wife Paige, were having a baby boy and very first son, I knew I would have some work to do. Admittedly, I put off the project (I still have my newest niece, Shiloh, whose baby blanket is in the works) until I had a bit more time. I perused patterns and kept my eye open for a cute blue pattern of sorts, but yet... Nada. I started to worry. Until one day recently it occurred to me, I'd always wanted to make one of those trendy cool rag quilts - and hey, with my newly acquired sewing skills maybe, just maybe, that'd be an option for little baby "Pete." With a vintage train theme for his nursery, what could be sweeter than a rustic quilt in blues and reds for bouncing baby boy to play on? Angels must've been watching over me in my plight to gift a special creation to each of these babies, for I stumbled upon this tutorial for "the easiest quilt ever!" Hoorah! I could do this - I was PUMPED!! Off I sped to the fabric store in search of the perfect flannel fabric, and three stores later, I finally found it. So excited was I in this new venture that I rushed home to get busy, and within 2 days, had a completed rag quilt for my littlest nephew!

As a child I had a baby-sized quilt that I literally loved to pieces. I still have the cherished, tattered patches of fabric lovingly tucked away in Moira's closet today. So, dear Paige, it's not perfect, but I do hope you and he enjoy this quilt. I hope your sweet bundle spends lots of time playing on it, snuggling it and wearing it down until nothing but bare threads and love remain.

Below is the series of photos I took to document each step of the quilt... mostly for me, my sewing friends and the few of you that might actually be interested. A huge thanks to Connie at Green Apple Orchards for her amazing tutorial. Enjoy!

The perfect fabric: stripes, pale blue polka dot and red mottled flannel.

All the quilt "sandwiches" laid out in the pattern before seaming.

I even found a very cool variegated quilting thread in red, white and blue! Fun stuff!

The 8 strips of 6 quilt sandwich squares, before sewing together.

The back of the quilt, all sewed together...

...and the front with exposed 1" seams for cutting and fringing.
The quilt with fringe cut and ready to go in the washer and dryer!

After washing, this is what the fringe looks like all fuzzy and cuddly - it'll get softer with each wash. I also added a navy fringe and border around the outside to frame it all, and I think that was a good call.

Ta da - the finished product! I'm pretty pleased for my first quilt, and 3rd sewing project ever. It's not perfect, but I hope he loves it as much as I do. :)

Fanning the Flame

This year for my birthday, I received a brand new sewing machine. It's nothing fancy, a Singer Simple (2263), that I purchased at Wal-mart for around $100 (plus a bonus 1 year subscription to Martha Stewart Living - woot!). After all, I didn't have any idea how to use the darn thing, so why was I gonna spend an exponential sum of money on the lovely, high-end Bernina that the lady at Hancock was trying to convince me that I "needed," when I was still questioning whether I was really cut out for the whole sewing thing to begin with? Despite the ridiculousness of her sales pitch, I signed up for a simple "introduction to sewing" class. The class ended up being pretty fun, once they realized in the first 30 minutes that I wasn't going to be shoved aside with my cheapo Singer in favor of the other lady with her shiny new Bernina that literally cost her as much as a luxury sedan. I managed to learn a bit about my machine and some basic sewing skills. Much to my surprise, I found that I just *might* be capable of this sewing thing that others seemed to find so easy. I was excited!

Unfortunately, time went by and I hadn't much touched the machine since the class, with all of the handbags I was furiously knitting away at and selling. I had a good thing going, selling all those custom bags, but was in definite need of a break - some "me" crafting time. Once I announced my handbag hiatus, I finally got to work on some other projects that needed my attention. First, I turned out a pair of dinosaur mittens for Ian, one triceratops and one T-Rex, complete with pointy teeth and red gaping mouth when he separates his thumb from his fingers(which he was WAY cute about). I also managed to knit about half way through a what-will-be lovely sweater for me in the most beautiful "moss" tweed you can imagine. I worked on a couple of projects for friends, a purse for Sheila's daughter and a poncho/hat set for Laura's Birthday Girl. I even bought the yarn for some cool felted slippers I've promised Collin, which will be really fun once the knitting bug bites again.

You may have learned by now, I tend to go through phases of crafting. I'll completely obsess over one medium for a while - eating, drinking and sleeping my current obsession, while hardly touching the others. So, when I finally found myself glancing longingly at my new, yet neglected, sewing machine, the embers of passion were once again fanned and I was ready to dive in!

It all started with the desire to recover the gliding rocker that would end up in Meghan's room. This chair was fairly cheap to begin with, and has mostly made it through Moira's and Ian's nursery years, but was in need of a little pick me up. So I managed to figure out how to recover all the cushions in a nice tan suede that should hopefully hold up as well as the original denim, as seen here. Then came the inspiration for a very special project for my soon-to-be born nephew, which is so special that I'll devote the entire next post to tell you about it. ;-) While working on the project for baby "Pete" (no - as far as I know, that is not going to be his name. It so happens that my co-Auntie, Suzann, on the McCann side of the family, loves nick-naming all of the not-yet-born babies until we have an actual name at the birth) I stumbled upon this tutorial by Leslie at a room somewhere. Go ahead and look... I'll wait... it's worth it, trust me.

Ooh la la! You mean, I can do that? Are you sure?! You do know I'm complete beginner, and - while, yes, fueled by the crazy that so often plagues other like-minded Crafties of my generation - I've never stitched anything that anyone would even remotely want to put on their body? Well, okay. I'll give it a go. So with great pride, I present to you, my first attempt at pillowcase dresses! Matching, or more appropriately, coordinating ones for my girls. Now, I'll have you realize that a large part of the adorableness of these is the wearers, for which I can claim very little credit, but THEY'RE PRETTY DARN CUTE, are they not?!?

First up, Darling Meggie, strutting her stuff (with the help of big Sis). These pillowcase dresses are going to be uber-cute during outings this Summer to the Botanical Gardens, when it's sweltering hot outside, and they can wear nothing but the dress (they'll make a good swim-suit cover up too!). But, for now, the brown leggings and undershirt look pretty sweet with it too.

(Okay, how can you not love this picture? Just a snippet of her constant state - tongue waggling in the air like she's vigilantly awaiting something to come and land on it.)

Here's the ever-fabulous Moira in her version of the dress, which can't be seen all that well in this picture, but you get the idea. Another great thing about these dresses is the speed in which one can be whipped up! I bought the fabric Friday afternoon and was able to complete her dress in a couple short hours that night before her Tea Party with (l to r) Kendal, Chloe, Celeste and Kaitlyn Saturday morning.

Are these girls not the cutest of cute?! Once again, Moira can sport hers with brown leggings and a pink undershirt on the colder February days, but will enjoy a more sundress-type wear this Summer. I see many more of these in all different patterns and styles in the very near future.


So there you have it. The beginning of what I expect to be a very long and beautiful relationship with my $100 Singer sewing machine... that is, until I completely loose my mind and trade my car in one day for the "needed" Bernina. ;)


Meghan's Room

Well, here it is. Meghan's room is finally finished... for the most part, that is. I'd still like to find a good area rug for the floor, I'm waiting for her 6 month pics to hang on the wall over the changing table, and we need to stock her bookshelf, etc, but the decorating is mostly finished. I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out because I love the pink and brown for her and we didn't even have to paint the walls, since they were already this tan color. It all just came together so nicely. :-) Of course, I don't think the pictures do the room justice, it's so cozy and sweet in person, but you get the idea. Come visit and we'll show you the room in real life. ;-) Enjoy!

Viewpoint from the doorway.

Her crib and the name frame I made this week. It's the first one for one of my kids, if you can believe that!! I think I'm gonna need to get on one for Moira and Ian now.

The rocking corner, complete with quilt from Aunt Dara. I love the wall stickers that match her crib set, they were a nice touch. This is the old rocking chair we've always had but I reupholstered it, so it's no longer denim, but this tan/brown suede. I love it, and am quite proud to have figured out how to do it all by myself. :)

The picture on the wall is a cross-stitch my dear friend, Leslie, made for Meghan. She's actually made a matching one for all our kids, just in different colors. Oh, and the rocking horse was a gift from our friend, Lynnea, whose father made it. I love the way it's short and squat - perfect for little ones. :)

This is the quilt from her crib set, Mia Rose. I like to hang them on the wall since they're great decoration and we don't tend to use the actual quilt much. I bought and painted the quilt hanger flowers pictured at the top too.

Here's a close-up of the "M" that a lady from my parent's church sent to us when Meghan was born. I think this is a great gift idea, and fortuitous that she chose pink and brown! It looks great in her room.
A close-up of the cross-stitched piece over the bookshelf from Leslie. I love the chunky pink feet!
A close-up of the name frame I made for over Meghan's crib. This one was a fun one to make.
Here's a "before" picture of the rocking chair, in all it's worn, denim glory. ;-)
And "after" - I really love it. Like I said, I'm quite proud to have figured out how to sew the cushions and arm rests on this thing!

PS - Click on the pictures to enlarge. :-)