Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mama Makes Mollie Makes

I'm assuming you've met Mollie Makes already?  The magazine has been around for a year, and I think I've been a subscriber since the third issue.  I love everything about it:  the projects, the obsession with felt that rivals my own, the giftie you get with every issue, the craving for tea and biscuits I have whilst reading it  as well as the proclivity I have for using words like "whilst" whilst leafing through it.  It comes wrapped in plastic with a piece of paper that covers the magazine so that it looks very generic and not unlike what I imagine porn magazines do to help their costumers retain some discretion.  And so, each month, I imagine my postal carrier's curiosity piqued and I've come to think of my Mollie Makes arrival as my monthly craft porn.

So I have a bunch of these magazines (which says a lot - - I don't do magazines because of how they tempt my inner hoarding demon) and every month I swear I'm going to make a project and I never get around to it.  This month, I decided that I'd try to complete at least one thing from the magazine each month and here's my first entry.  This little dolly worked up in an afternoon while I was home caring for my sick kid.  She was such a good patient, a new stuffie was in order.  I used purple for the dress, since that is Bean's favorite color, and left the eye color choice up to her...hence the purple eyes.  The pattern doesn't call for the little laces, but I stuck them on to give Bean something to practice tying. 

The directions were easy to follow, although I got a bit tripped up attaching the head to the body.  I needed to attach the front head to the front of the body and the back head to the back of the body (to give two pieces) which sounds obvious, but for some reason I thought the directions were telling me to sew both body pieces to just the front part of the head; so it involved a slight bit of muttering and one use of the seam ripper, but otherwise went together quite simply.  The construction is incredibly sturdy, and I even learned what a triple stitch is and from now on will use it for all of my stuffie seaming.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I can't say that I made everything (such as these incredible mice in Mollie Makes) I planned to for the Easter basket this year, but I did manage to finish this cute little bunny from Fuzzy Mitten. He was easy to knit up, though stuffing the fact required a bit of finesse to make the shape just right. Or maybe I'm obsessive. This pattern comes with all kinds of cute outfits that you can knit. I just made the jacket before I ran out of time, but I'll be making the dress at some point; there's also a vest and a hoodie, so I'd encourage you to grab this pattern;) I'll be posting the details about the yarns I used over on Ravelry if you want to find me there (kdmade).
Because of my ongoing paranoia about chemicals going into my family, we purchased an egg dyeing kit from Whole Foods again this year. Again I boiled the eggs before reading the instructions and realizing that you are supposed to cook them in the dye, and again shook my fist to the heavens in frustration. Last year, I just used the dyes cold anyway and the color didn't really take. This year, I made the dyes with boiling water and only used 500 mls of water instead of the 750 they recommend. I just took the cooked eggs out of the fridge and we made sure to supervise Bean as she used spoons to get the eggs in and out of the colors and they worked great. The yellows don't really get too bright, but the pinks and greens are fabulous. The splotchiness in the photo isn't really on the eggs (that's just Hipstamatic being artsy); the colors also dyed fairly evenly. We'll definitely be doing this again next year, though I will remember to boil my eggs in the dye and I'll be saving pantyhose to try out this super cool decorating technique. Oh, who am I kidding, I'll be buying pantyhose to do it, who the heck wears pantyhose anymore?!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Thanks to an ingenious birthday gift (xoxo, A!) I had a happy evening recently at a how-to class for Kokedama. I'd stumbled upon these amazing string gardens over at Pinterest (oh how I love thee, you fantastic-ly gigantic time-suck) and without even seeing my pin, Mr. Man decided to send me to a class. You know you've hit the jackpot when your partner knows you'll flip for something before he's actually seen you flip for it.

Of course I fell in love with these little gardens because of their simply beauty. I consider it a mere bonus that you can hang them from the ceiling if you want, though I think lots of people are drawn to them for that reason. But imagine my surprise, dear reader, when I learned that the plants are wrapped in moss before you tie them up with string. I mean, come on, this was a craft meant for me, right?

I made two hanging ones at the workshop (not pictured in this post) but I think I'm actually going to avoid hanging them. I learned that traditionally they are placed on little dishes, and I do love the way they look sitting around the house. The above Kokedama are daffodil and grape hyacinth bulbs which I bought in two pots, separated the bulbs out and wrapped them up in little groupings.

I can't wait 'till these guys bloom.
I experimented with an orchid because I like to live dangerously and also the orchids at my garden center are going out of bloom and so they are 50% off. I also like to live cheaply.
And this is a scented geranium which smells much less like cat pee than normal geraniums do. Also, it's super pretty all wrapped up.
The materials for these guys are easy to find at a good garden supply stores, though I'm not sure about where to get sheet moss. Well, I am sure where to get it on the internet (here) but I'm not sure that garden centers carry living moss. You can't use the preserved moss because I'm told it will get funky as it ages (and you keep it moist) and also, what the heck do they do to moss to preserve it? It freaks me out, so lets agree to stop using it. I, of course, simply went to my stash of sheet moss that I harvested when we moved from our last house; if you don't move with a box full of dried sheet moss, you're clearly doing something wrong.

I took my class at City Planter and here's a good tutorial that's pretty close to the method I learned. Now, go get your Kokedama on!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another skirt, in size: me.

Alrighty, it took me a few years, but I finally cut into my gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze...and it turned into a skirt! Inspiredby my newly organized studio space (read: fabric displayed in open shelves, organized by color!), and the fact that a sweet little stitching studio opened up nearby, I decided it was finally time to get a little instruction for pattern-reading. I'm a completely self-taught sewist. My dad showed me how to sew a straight seam and backstitch when I was a kid, but no one ever told me how to use a pattern properly. I'm not sure how this happened, since my dad made me some dresses when I was little and I know he was using patterns, though I suspect that he was just winging it as I have been all these years. I mean, do people really cut out all those notches? Do they really transfer all of the markings onto the pattern? Do they really cut with the grain? Um, apparently they do. Here are some things I learned:

- After you cut your pattern, fold back the paper to the mark you need to transfer and use a disappearing pen to make the mark (on the wrong side of the fabric!). Maybe this all seems really obvious, but I never really considered how to transfer markings without literally going through the paper. Using this technique, transferring darts was a breeze; I just folded the paper back little by little, making two lines of dots that converged at the point marked on the pattern. Then the darts were pinned by matching the dots up as the fabric was folded (so it was important to mark the dots for each side of the dart in the same horizontal line).

- Use pins. Just do it. It's a pain, they are annoying, but just do it. My instructor had us pin the patterns before cutting fabric and this was probably a lot better than my "stick whatever semi-heavy object it nearest to you on the paper and hope that it doesn't shift while cutting" method.

-Use your cranium before you stick pins into pieces you are preparing to sew together so that they are facing the right direction you'll be sewing in. This took about 1 billionth of an extra second's worth of thought and was really, really worth it.

- I'm not ready to admit that this is a lesson learned, because I'll probably still not do it, but making a muslin isn't a bad idea. I didn't technically make one for this project, but I did decide to make a lining for the skirt...and then the lining turned out to be a muslin and we took the seams in at the hips a bit. Maybe the lesson needs to be to make a lining for every skirt?

The zipper went in all lovey-dovey, and I opted to not create the yoke or placket or whatever for the waist. I just sewed everything with right sides together, then turned the lining and sewed a top stitch to keep it down. I'm good at topstitching, so this is a good solution for me; if you hate topstitching, don't do it!

For the hem, I used the ribbon method from the skirt I made for Bean a few weeks ago. It makes a nice, clean edge and I like hunting through my boxes of ribbons to see what works. I believe this ribbon was from a gift from my mother-in-law (she knows how I save all of this stuff!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

A skirt.

While making a run to the fabric store during my recent semi-annual quilting day (All day! With quilters who know 100% more than I do! And door prizes!!), I of course had to buy a sweet kid print along with my brown fabric for my quilt binding. It whispered, "Make me into a skirt," when I saw it in the shop. It didn't hurt that it had chicken-like birds on it; I'm kind of a sucker for poultry.

This was a one-nap skirt, meaning it took me under 2 hours to make it and it was so simple I could do it without much brain power (I make it a rule to turn my brain off during nap time, it's really what's best for everyone.) I found a simple pattern here (I. Love. Oliver & S.) and pulled a ribbon from my voluminous stash...please refer to my comments on craft hoarding in the previous post. I think you should know that this skirt involves cutting fabric from selvedge to selvedge, meaning you just fold in half and cut it to the length that you want the skirt to be (plus 2 inches for seam allowance). It's truly no muss/no fuss, which is a beautiful thing when you are working whilst brain-dead.

This is definitely going to be made up in lots of different prints throughout the various stages of her toddler-hood. And as you can see here, it's particularly good for wearing while giving tune-ups to your rocking horse.

Hello, Sunshine!

Well, that was a long hiatus. It turns out that toddlers are a bigger timesuck than Facebook and Pinterest stuck together and multiplied by a factor of 8 billion. Who knew? Add this to the long list of things they don't tell you before you have a baby (this list would include such gems as: you will most likely poop while birthing and toddlers don't know to lean over while puking so be ready to do a massive hair wash in the middle of the night when the stomach virus hits). Oops, did I just mention poop AND puke in the first paragraph of my resurrection post? They also don't tell you that you will become more obsessed with bodily functions than you ever thought possible. It is what it is, folks.

Enough about that, let's get to the crafting. In the recent months, enough has been happening that I now deem worthy to share, hence, I'm going to try to revive ye olde blog(e). I've been slowly getting back to making things, and I mean slooooowly getting back to it. First there was the responsibility of keeping a child alive and happy that kept me from creating, but because we didn't think that was enough of a challenge, we also decided to move in the first year of her life. Hahahahahaha! Haha. ha. This meant, of course, completely packing up my craft room, a task which I couldn't have managed without my friend/real estate agent coming over and throwing stuff randomly (!) into about a billion boxes. I'm not kidding when I say a billion, either. OK, maybe it was more like a million, but all I'm saying is that the movers actually started laughing at me midway through the move when I kept directing them to bring box after box to the craft room in the new house. Finally, after schlepping his 788th box of beads up a flight of stairs, one of the guys said "No, you don't," when I told him that I wanted the 789th brought to the craft room. I went upstairs to see what he meant and found a maze of stacked boxes taller than me...my very own hoarding reality show.

It took over a year to tackle it. And some tears. And a chunk of change. And a patient, patient man who was willing to give me a whole room to myself, walk past stacks of boxes of glitter and buttons and fabric for a year, deal with my intermittent meltdowns when I lost it because I hadn't made anything in a hundred years and couldn't even find anything if I'd tried (most common quote that started these rants: "I can't find the [expletive deleted] hot glue gun!"), and then, after all that, help me walk through planning, shopping, and putting together a functional room. It's almost there now. Not quite finished enough to photograph, but it's functional and it's beautiful and it keeps me sane.


A quilt. This is my Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake quilt. Have you read it? I likedbutnotloved it, but while I was reading that book I couldn't get enough of the cover art. I kind of flipped out a little over the colors and declared that I would make a quilt top in those same colors. It's a super-simple nine patch, inspired by this quilt here. We took a trip to Lancaster to see a friend, and in between visiting farm stands and gorging ourselves on fresh ice cream, we scoured the fabric stores with book in hand.
This is my first quilt that I sent out to be quilted. What I'm really trying to say is that this is the first quilt I've ever made that was big enough to fit an adult body, and therefore it terrified me to try to quilt it by myself on my little machine. I actually tried and failed, so hey, a least I gave it a shot. But I wanted a finished quilt more than I wanted a dead quilt and a nasty drinking habit, so I sent it out. I love the little circles because they are kind of egg-like (slightly ovoid) and pick up well on the egg/bird theme going on in some of the prints. I also like that I didn't have to do it and I feel blessed to know that there is a woman near where I live who thinks having an industrial-sized quilting machine in her dining room is more important than a table and chairs. So now that I've figured out how to have someone else quilt my tops, I think I'll finally get around to having the baby's quilt finished (she's 2.5, in case you were keeping score.)
I chose to stick one of those little flim strip bits that are so popular right now (for good reason!) down the back of the quilt. It turns out that it makes it very hard to decide which side to look at.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This you need to know about.

This is a post about marzipan. I love marzipan. I love it plain, covered in dark chocolate, and on cake (I make a kick-ass lemon cake that I cover with marzipan, if I do say so myself). There are many regrets I have about my former marriage, but perhaps one of the worst is that I let my caterer convince me that I couldn't have marzipan on my wedding cake because it was August. A decade later and I'm still bummed I didn't get that marzipan wedding cake (never mind the failed marriage, it's the lost opportunity of cake and marzipan that I'm really mourning now.)

This summer we visited my parents' old stomping grounds, Astoria NY. Hidden there, in its tiny, original storefront that's been in operation for longer than my Dad's been alive is La Guli's Bakery. They make marzipan. It looks like this: And this: The peaches have little chocolate pits. The figs look like figs. There was also a pear, an apple, and a cherry but I ate them so quickly I didn't get to photograph them. Oh, and they have the best spumoni water ice in the whole, wide world. And they still use baker's twine, pulled from those overhanging metal thingees, to wrap their boxes.

Here's to food as art, businesses that last because they are so damn good, and holding fast to beautiful traditions like bakery boxes strung together with red and white cotton twine.


made. by k.d.