Thursday, August 30, 2012

A quilt for Violet...

So I have a bit of a thing for quilts. Of course I mean the kind of quilts that are made by one person who painstakingly pieces it all together and crafts it with care into something lovely. Even better if it's made of beautiful colours and a patchwork of all kinds of fabric all coming together to create a thing of beauty. Quilts are for comfort and warmth, to be a reminder of home, happiness and snuggles.  I love the idea of creating something like that as a gift for someone you care about. Unlike a piece of clothing or a toy, you can never grow out of a quilt. My sister has made us  a couple of quilts and one of hers even features in our wedding photos. We love them. I had one made by a very talented lady for Isobel when she was a wee baby and then when my niece Molly was born I had the same lady make one for her. Bel sleeps with her quilt every night. It gets dragged all over the place, made into forts and wrapped around her if she's ever feeling sick. I hope that it'll always be a reminder of a happy home for her and that one day maybe it'll be wrapped around her babies. Anyway I've always kinda hoped that maybe one day I'd be able to make one myself. As soon as I got the gist of sewing I had quilts on my mind but to be honest I felt like it was beyond me and I didn't know where to start. When my niece Violet was born I was going to get her a quilt from the same lady that made Bel's and Molly's but for various reasons I didn't get it done. Violet's first birthday is coming up and I figured that there wasn't ever going to be another person so worthy of me giving it my best shot. Now, my quilt isn't fancy and isn't very elaborate but I made it with lots and lots of love for one of the sweetest, most adorable little girls you could ever meet and I'm just over the moon with the end result! I hope it keeps her warm and cosy and feeling loved for a long long time.

I decided not to attempt piecework on the actual quilt top just yet, I mean I didn't want to set myself up for failure! I decided on a cute fabric for the front. It has owls (Bel loves owls) spider webs (Seb loves spidey) and dragon flies and they always remind me of my sister because she had a dragonfly tatooed onto her foot while staying with me here in Canada. I made my own bias tape for the binding by cutting scraps of some pretty yellow polka dot and striped fabric and sewing them together into a long strip. The yellow spotty fabric was given to me by my sister (Violets mummy) in the sewing kit she made for me and I'd previously made some little tooth fairy pillow creatures for Molly and Violet with it and with  the yellow stripy one so they had a touch of personal meaning to them.  The back of the quilt is made from an old bed sheet of Seb's that  I'd also used to line that first bag I made. So it's got a touch of the upcycling tradition of quilting too. I also decided to appliqué Violets initials and a couple of the little owls and spider webs onto the back just to make it extra personal to her. After a whole lot of pinterest browsing and googling I'd formulated a basic plan of action and felt ready to start sewing.

Here's where I have a bit f a confession.....I bought a new sewing machine.  I know, I know, I went on and on about how I loved my old Singer and I do so appreciate that machine for getting me started. I honestly don't think I'd have had the confidence to even know what to look for in a sewing machine before I used that good old girl. The trouble was that I found it difficult to sew in a straight line with the old Singer, she was just too flippin fast. Knowing also that I really really wanted to get into making some quilts I did a bit of research and then made the fatal mistake of going into a sewing machine shop and , well, that was that. I went for a machine with lots of space for quilting and even considering that and the fact that this was just a baby sized quilt I was quite taken aback by how hard it is to work on such a big piece and still see what the heck you're sewing!

Once I'd started I just couldn't stop! I worked all day and nearly all night with barely a breather to feed my children some scraps before getting back to it. By the time I got to binding, I think it was nearly 2 am hence the very bad lighting in the photo below. Time to pin that binding tape....

I kept going and learnt a very important fact of sewing..... wearing shorts while working on a big quilt covered in pins is a bad idea. I'm honestly surprised there's no blood on that there quilt!

By some time in the early morning the quilt was done. With no one else up to show it to I was so ridiculously happy and tired I didn't know what to do with myself. For at least half an hour I sat on my sofa in the early morning light with a big smile on my face...all snuggled in Violets quilt. :)

I love it! And best of all, I think she will too.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This post is intended to make you drool...(Yes you Dale!)

It's been a good week food wise. Neil has been in a bun making frenzy and has knocked out at least three dozen delicious buns. Some were even made with kamut flour! (Please will someone drag me away from those buns before I turn into one!) He also wipped up a few authentic (as you can get without a pizza oven) Neopolitan style pizzas, some scrummy fennel sausage, a to-die-for butternut squash and fig ravioli (with his own hand made pasta), lamb slow cooked with san marzano tomato and lemon, oh, and some more buns. Unfortunately not very much of it stuck around long enough for me to photograph so you'll just have to take my word for it. I think I'd best get myself off to the gym incase next week is just as good!

Operation cosy home...

What is it exactly that makes a home a home? Having moved homes so many times I can barely count, from a home around the corner, a home across a province and a home across the other side of the world, I can say I'm pretty confused about the concept of home right now.  Bel call's this house "the old house" and if you ask her where home is she'll say Tofino. When I talk about England I call it home. If I'm out at the supermarket and the kids are getting ratty and tired I'll say "let's go home" referring to this house, just for lack of a better word really. I  know one thing for sure. This house is not my home. We own it (well, the bit the bank doesn't own) which is more than I could say of our little home in Tofino but that little house in Tofino with all it's horrible laminate floor and weedy little patch of gravel really felt like HOME. At this point we're stuck here in Edmonton trying to live in a house that doesn't suit us and that none of us like much and hopefully not trash the hell out of it before a buyer comes our way. We left quite  a lot of our stuff in our storage unit in Tofino with the highest hopes that we'll be back there in the not too distant future which has added a few challenges to the task of staging our house to sell. It's waaaay too big, and it's pretty hard to make a big house feel cosy when dealing with limited furniture and GIGANTIC empty walls. Problem number 2 is the colour scheme. The wall's are not too bad, they're kind of a custard cream colour. I wouldn't choose it but it's ok. It's just when paired with the poo brown of the trim that it becomes extra horrible. When we bought the house I was really thinking of it as a temporary home that didn't necessarily have to meet my exact tastes but now that I seem to be stuck with the place, literally like an albatross around my neck, the poo brown is starting to get to me. Big time. Repainting is out of the question, it would cost a fortune to get someone in to do it and with all the will in the world I just don't think I could face that task myself right now. This place has 29 doors! TWENTY NINE I TELL YOU! And then you'd have all the baseboards and window trim to paint.....eeeerm, no thank you. We've had a few people view the house and nobody has cited the ugly poo brown trim as their reason for not buying but I'm putting it down to that anyway. That and the big cavenous empty feeling. SO now I'm on a mission. A mission to cosy up this big old place and make some one fall in love and buy it so that I can cut it loose and be on my merry way. I went out to Ikea and bought a massive map. Seriously the thing is huge in the store but at least ten times bigger once you get it home as is strangely the way with all things bought from warehouse sized stores. Still I like the map and it served it's purpose of filling up a ma-hu-sive portion of wall. See above. I also stuck up a bunch of frames trying my best to spread them around the house for instant added cosy-homyness. I used my trusty Command strips because I needed my plan to work instantly, I'm not patient enough to try to hang pictures any other way and they can be removed without a hint of mess........ love those things!

It helped that I had recently received a delivery of lovely fish prints to frame from my super talented sister. The sockeye salmon above is her work and my absolute favorite piece of art ever to be hung upon my wall is this one....

A can of sardines. I love it! You can see more of her work at Squid Ink designs on etsy. She has lots of beautiful prints at really good prices( I keep telling her to charge more) and some gorgeous hand painted plates all with a fishy theme.
Now, back to the poo brown dilema. I decided that what was needed to cover up at least some of the trim was some nice long,  light coloured curtains. They make the place look a milion times better, no, make that a billion. see below for the evidence.....

You see? Theres about 6 feet of poo brown trim covered up by one curtain panel and remember that there are three huge windows in that room. The curtain's also just soften everything up and make the huge space feel a teeny bit more cosy. I didn't want to spend a fortune and found a really cool idea while googling "cheap long curtain rods" to use metal EMT conduit. You buy it in 10 foot lengths at Home Depot for ....wait for it......$4!! That and a can of flat black spray paint and I had me some pretty nice looking curtain rods!
I've added a lot of colourful things here and there because that's what I like and that's what I think this house was lacking. I sewed a couple of cushion covers and a table runner and put some of Bel's pretty paper butterflies on the wall. This is where it gets a bit complicated. I know that pretty paper butterflies are not to everyones taste particularly in Edmonton and I know that you are supposed to keep personality out of the equation when it comes to home staging. The thing is that I've got to live here for now and some colourful paper butterflies detract from the poo brown trim and make me feel the tinniest bit happier to be here. 

There are quite a few big lumps of wood dotted about the place that I couldn't be without. Whenever I walk past one I get a waft of cedar and a head full of Tofino.

Generally I think I've succeded in adding a bit of personality to the place. Only time will tell if that's going to help us get this place sold or not.  If anyone has any tips or ideas or if anyone thinks I've made the place look like crap then please do tell me :)
For now though, these few little changes have helped me feel a little bit more at home.