Nesting Boxes, or Cubes, or whatever.....

I hinted at another sewing project in the last post.

In addition to elves, I also tried sewing some other toys.  Before the time of Elves, it was the time of nesting boxes from the same book that had the instructions for the Spectrum Quilt:

This book has a lot of great easy things, BUT--for me--nesting boxes were not one of them.  In the book they look like perfect little tissue boxes all in graduated sizes.  My expectations were high.

Image from hazelnutgirl.blogspot.com
But when I made mine, they looked like hot floppy wonkiness.  The interfacing was not as stiff as it would like you to believe, the corners didn't crisp, the pins were stabbing me left and right when I turned them out.  And since I am not a precise sewing, insetting one cube inside another is a terrible, terrible idea.  Ugh, and only I will know the amount of double sided interfacing paper that didn't peel off after ironing and is sewn between the layers for all eternity.  Blech.

So after two, I quit!  But I had cut sooooo many squares.  You see, I got ahead of myself and thought I would sew an extra set for my nephew on the way too.  That did not go as planned, and when I threw in the towel, I still had all this stuff:

"Heavy Duty Interfacing" my ass.
So now what?  Well, when life gives you lots of cut up squares, you make cubes:

Slap a sixth side together, throw a little stuffing in there....ermagad!  So much easier.  And this, friend, is the project that taught me how to stuff toys and led me to the elves.  If I had had jingle bells, I would have put a few in some of the cubes, but do you realize it's hard to find jingle bells for sale outside of the Christmas season?  Supply and Demand is a funnily specific animal.

So now I have tons of cubes, our baby is set.  Our nephew has a few coming his way.  And my scrap pile has been reduced yet again. Including some of this awesome fabric I stole from my mom's stash maybe back in high school:

Mommy like.

Some of the scrap I used was from some upholstery projects I did so I worry once the cubes get covered in baby drool and I drop them in the wash they will come out looking funky and wonky too.  But if they do......I bet they will make the nesting boxes look awesome by comparison.



Rather than finding a daycare or pediatrician or packing for the inevitable hospital trip which is mere weeks away, I have been nesting by sewing.  And I'm here now to show off my latest project: The Three Little Elves.

Scratching your head trying to remember that fairy tale?  Well, stop it, because it doesn't exist.  It's a real life tale about me and my friends Lauren and Nicole.  You may remember Nicole from this guest blogging stint, and Lauren from her own lovely blog.  Each are on to more professional endeavors (Little Nut Crafts and Lauren Ann Paul) and in spite of their expertise, I've sewed them some slapdash elves anyway.  Enjoy my lack of hand sewing and new adventures into lumpy plush doll making, ladies!!!!

You see, in the last year (or so) we've all gotten pregnant and all had/will have little girls.  I thought it would be fun if our little ladies had a similar toy.  Play dates while miles apart, just for shits and adorable giggles.

Skinny little elves
Yep, I spent the better part of this afternoon scratching my cole slaw craving and sewing elf legs and arms.  Sounds creepy, huh?

I found the idea for the elves here and just could not resist their little faces.  There's a free pdf template for the little buggers (though not hard to recreate without the download).  I used plush for the face and limbs and I patchworked some scrap fabric for the super tall hat and round little bodies.  It was very easy to do, and fun.  After all, this project combines my two crafty loves: sewing and embroidery.

I chose the "singing face" for these little elves, which is really more of a talking face because Nicole, Lauren and I would get together and gab a lot.  In fact...........

*we met over breakfast a LOT.

Okay, so I tried to incorporate the Orange Elf into this dialogue, but any writer will tell you dialogue is hard to write....besides.  This little one is orange, its arm is positioned in a particular way...maybe like a fist pump?  It's almost as if it's saying.....

God, please forgive me for that.

So, I've shipped these little angels off to the thawing tundra of Madison, WI with the confident hope that all our girls will love them and keep us connected.  Lauren and Nicole, hope you got the ones you wanted and your baby girls enjoy!

Oh!  And there's a little clue to another sewing project I've been working on above:

Oh those nesting boxes.....Stay tuned!


Honestly, Pregnancy

**I had many--as you can imagine--hilarious pictures to accompany this post.   Except maybe for Article 3 below.  But blogger was being weird and I deleted them instead of trying to solve the problem.  Happy uninterrupted reading!

I realize I am about to rant with very little context to how easy my pregnancy has been.  Forgive me. I love feeling the baby move, but I loathe some other things with a burning passion.  Overall I've had a super smooth pregnancy.  Matt and I didn't have trouble getting pregnant.  We are incredibly fortunate.  In fact, knowing those things so very well I almost hate myself a little for writing this post, but I'm going to anyway.  I need to unload a short list of things that--at 34 weeks--I'm over about being pregnant.

Of course there are the givens: I miss sleeping on my stomach (watching football players being tackled was making me jealous), miss caffeine (Matt has decided to finally start to drink coffee, that freewheeling bastard) and miss alcohol.  But aside from the Tweedledee, Tweedledumb, and No F#@&ing S%*t of pregnancy (and the typical anxieties) here are my special top six:

1) I will not miss launching myself out of bed at night to pee for the tenth time.  It's not the waking up.  It's that I'm severely testing my wrist strength every time I try to hurl the extra 50 pounds I've added in the last 8 months out of our low bed in the middle of the night.

 2) I know that, biologically speaking, it's an amazing feat and will help keep baby fed but I would really like my nipples to return to their regular color, thankyouverymuch.  I would like to wear a white sleep shirt and feel sexy again, not like an orangutan on National Geographic.  Sleep Shirt Bonus Request: I would also like to fit into the shirt Matt got me from one of his favorite Durham food trucks.  Not fitting into a food truck shirt also = not sexy.

3) Oooo, serious one.  I will not miss the guy at work looking at me like I'm a saint for not aborting this baby each time we pass in the hallway.  This feeling is based on a real life conversation with him in which I never mentioned my views on abortion, let alone abortion as an option.  I hope no one can relate to that one.

 4) Applesauce cravings have GOT to go.  JUST KIDDING!  Applesauce is the food of the gods and Johnny Appleseed is a goddamn national treasure.

5) Sitting sucks.  Laying down sucks.  Walking around is the only thing that feels good and--oh yeah--it's 3:16am right now.

6) And let's end on a high note: I cannot wait for wiping to be easy again.



Spectrum Quilt

Hey y'all, I'm back.  What, a week goes by and you thought I left you again?  We really have to work through these abandonment issues you have.  I've just been knee deep in new car shopping and Madison tripping.  Yes, dear friends, last weekend I was in Madison: watching roller derby, catching up with awesome friends (some of them meeting their babies for the first time!) and eating at my favorite restaurants. I hope to have a recap soon.  But right now it's easier to talk about another saddle I've gotten back on: sewing!

Completely generously and by surprise, my friend Gracie sent me a book of baby sewing projects.  It was just the thing I needed to break that year and a half streak of strictly utilitarian sewing.  The book is called  Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby by Anna Maria Horner and it is filled. to. the. BRIM! with adorable projects.  I decided to now start small and, you know, make my first quilt (first solo endeavor at least, love ya Mom!).  Thar she blows:

It's called the Hide and Seek Spectrum Quilt.  The fun part is that each window opens and reveals a coordinating patterned fabric for baby to find:

Fun fact!  The orange and the dark blue squares are from dresses Seven and Five, respectively.  The patterns feature leaves and birds and flowers and....enhance...ENHANCE.....let's look as some other favorite squares:

A girl's got to know: Go Pack Go!

Secrets!: An old pair of Matt's boxers
...but in spite of the source material, the plan is to use this as a play mat for the little one.

It was very quick to pull together.  In fact, I did it in one day from start to finish (including prewash).  Cutting the pieces was tedious, but you quilters must love that because that's kind of a big part of this whole quilting thing.  I understand that now *inhale...exhale* and will be better prepared next time.

The only other pain was that I had to change thread colors a lot.  For instance, this is what the quilted border looks like:

Ooooh, pretty.  And bobbin-y.  Yes, the largest expense other than the batting was the back up bobbins I needed to purchase.  And that's true.  This quilt is super cheap to make if you have a well-nourished stash:

So if you decide to raid your own stash and make this quilt (and I recommend you do!) you may want to consider a few fun extras...you can make each patterned square more texturey by adding rickrack or use fleece.  (I have upholstery fabric and swiss dots for some of mine because that's what I had.)  You could even recycle some clean food wrappers or a heavy plastic to sew into the windows for the patterned fabric to make them more "crinkley".  Kids love that stuff.

I'll admit the corner I cut in this quilt was the hand quilting.  The final dimension of the whole thing is about a four foot square, so I could still feed it through the machine, and I happily did.  I thought I might regret not being "true" to the spirit of quilting, but then I thought about the first time baby girl or one of her adorable cousins might spit or poop on this thing and I was glad to save the handiwork.  Happy Sewing!


And finally, Big Project #3

Ten points to Griffyndor if you know what this picture is all about!*  If you guessed "Sandy's Organic Chemistry Homework", your points are awarded thusly. 

*Sorry, just now reading Harry Potter.  I know, way behind.

Yes, the third big project of the last year is my return to school. I know I'm going backwards in excitement level...baby to new house to school?  Well excuoooooze me for not being Steven King, Master of Mystery and Suspense.  I'm just a girl from Virginia who is definitely four chemistry classes smarter than the last time we met.  You noticed, didn't you?  *ahem* Straight "A"s, bizzes. 

So, why the return to school?  Well, I've said it for years and I guess turning 30 was just the swift kick in the pants I needed to stop talking and start doing.  I started back this fall to get my prerequisites out of the way so I can apply to grad school and then become a Nutritionist.  Sound like a lot of steps?  Well, it is!  And who knows how long it will take me!

So, how does this work?  Well, I am working full time by day and taking class part time classes by night.  Although this semester I am taking a little "gestation vacation" but plan on returning in the summer or fall again.  Oh, and I also plan on making you listen to me worry about baby time versus school time when the time comes.  See, it's started already.  What fun.

But so far, I love it.  First of all, girls can do and love science.  Just in case you believe the rumors going around that say otherwise.  And secondly, nutrition makes something in me tick like few other things do.  The link between childhood obesity and poor access to health care for low-income families???  Probably not something most people get excited about, but it is if it's something you want to improve and help people understand!  Word to ya' adequate access and smart decision making motha'.


So, yeah.  That's my deal.  I've covered the big changes in the last three posts: a baby, a fixer-upper, and school.  Now that we're all clear on that, time to move on with life unfolding. What big things do you have going on?  When were things most hectic for you, would you pile it all on again?  And I do promise to let you know if I ever have an answer to that myself.....


Big Project #2

Aside from the human baby, Matt and I have another baby we're working on: our new house.  After one rejected offer then a decision between the put together house in a neighborhood full of people our age versus a fixer-upper in a neighborhood of octagenarians, we chose.......the octagenarians!

Yes, we bought a butter and baby blue *shudder* ranch house that needed someone who loved it enough to banish fake wood paneling from its being.  Our mantra?  But it has sooo much potential!  Our reality?  We have been finding precious surprises about it ever since:

A backyard filled with so many tchotchkes my sister-in-law named it "Narnia"?

A broken dishwasher from the '80s hardplumbed into the house?
A roach problem?

Two fire place flues that exposed the tender wooden frame of our new home?
A yard full of dead trees that lean precariously over our bedroom.
All the hot and cold faucets connected backwards so hot is cold and cold is hot?  
So far we've found these smaller hiccups to be manageable via (in order)...
the dump,
a hacksaw followed by a plumber,

better living through chemicals,
a seedy old fireplace repair man called "Beetlejuice",
tree removal service almost followed by small claims court,
aaaaaaaaaannnnd being lazy and living with it!  You're welcome unknowing house guests!
(Oh!  And here's the part where I skip over mentioning the foundation problems because I don't want a lecture....Yippeeeeee!)

Paint and elbow grease go a long way too and I will look forward to bragging about some of our improvements as the blog goes on.  We're finally completed a lot of infrastructure-y and detail stuff and are now dealing with the "fun" of having moved from a 720 square foot home in our beloved Madison to a 2100 square foot home that echoes because of lack of furniture.  First world problems.

And (for those sewing blog hanger-on-ers!) I do have a sewing space set up in the new house, but unbelievably the sewing machine has only been used to sew curtains and repair Matt's heavy duty wood splitting gloves.  Yes, much like the Bounty paper towel man I imagine, my man splits wood.  My husband is awesome.


First Big Project #1

Wow, two posts in 2013 so far.  That's 200% more that 2012, I'd say I'm off to a good start and should take the rest of the day off.....

Just kidding.  This one's too good to wait.

Second post and it's been a year and a half since we've chatted!  We have some catching up to do.  Time to reveal one of three big new projects of 2012-13 for this now casual sew-er.   I made it through nine measly dresses with my crazy sewing blog goal, but now I have my eyes on a larger prize.  Instead of nine dresses, I'm now over halfway through nine months of my largest project to date.  The Matt and I are having our first baby!

Yep, that's our sweet little girl at 20 weeks.  Whoa.  I love this picture because we were totally not expecting 3D pictures and were so surprised when the technician flipped the switch and we could see our daughter sucking and moving (and man, is she a mover).  You'd think having a baby would be an excuse to take things easy, move things off your plate, but I'm excited to add this blog to the mix and chat up some momma stuff with you.  Besides, Matt has already made it clear that I am now the #2 woman in his life now.  I need to feed the ego somewhere.

Exhibit A: Proud Papa
Now, if you were starting to get excited/nauseous that this was going to turn into a "parenting blog", you have no reason to squeal/reach for a paper bag to puke in just yet.  I'm still an adult human and like all adult humans, I have varied interests which you will be forced to listen to: house stuff, craft stuff, work stuff, (spoiler alert!) school stuff, and also, eventually, this "parenting" stuff of which I speak.  Welcome, baby girl!


Hellloooooooo beautifuls!

*Mwah*!  *Mwah*!  I'm back.  Happy Monday!  A lot has changed since I last posted to (twelve) dresses, if the last post there didn't give that away.  Yep, in the summer of 2011 the hubbs and I were packing up our precious first home in Madison, Wisconsin and moving back to North Carolina.  I won't get into the ins and outs of that decision making process right now, but it was (and sometimes is still) difficult.  We knew all along we left in spite of having a great life there, not running away in search of one.

Lucky Strike Tower, Durham NC
So now, here we are!  Settling in in Durham, in the Bull City.  The land of tobacco and a young Kevin Costner, kickstarting this old new blog (to use the parlance of our times).  I never did finish those twelve dresses (I got to nine) and I don't have the awesome blonde streak in my hair that I used to.  I also don't play derby anymore.  But I do have a few other new and exciting things going on, which I'm excited to share.

About that, this blog is going to move away from being a sewing blog and more about life and other random projects.  Hey, I was honest in my original "About Me" and said I have a history of perfected and then hastily abandoned crafty interests.  Turns out I know myself really well.  But there's still a lot of making and doing going on around here, and I might need your help sorting some of it out.  So sorry for the old "one, TWO!", but I hope you'll still stick around because we have fun, don't we?  I still love ya, baby.

The (twelve) dress project has a place of history and honor in the "In Summary" section to the right. You'll see the tagline (to the left) has also changed to include a healthy dose of honesty.  Other tweaks to the blog layout and content coming too.  A year and a half is a long time to make changes.  And a "Hi, World!  I'm back on the internets!" blog post is too teeny tiny small to explain them all, so stay tuned for the 'splaining to come 'round.

It feels good to be back.