Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Topping Off" my Bedroom

I bought my fabric for my "spring top" last week. However, in place of sewing it, I made a blackout curtain for my bedroom instead. I've successfully slept in my bedroom for over two years, but recently the security light beaming through the window over my bed started keeping me up at night. Neither wearing an airplane eye cover nor pulling my sheets over my head helped me get to sleep. Thus, I decided that I must block the light source.

I found blackout fabric at the fabric store and could hardly wait test its capabilities. Since I didn't want to cover my wood blinds with a curtain, I purchased a pocket curtain rod that fit inside the window casing and sewed a straight curtain that is just a bit bigger than my window so it can reach all the edges.

After installing my curtain last night, I was excited to jump in bed and assess its effectiveness. I'm happy to report that my room was dark for the first time ever and I was asleep in minutes. Oh joy!

Maybe I'll work on my "spring top" as my unfinished project this week.

Challenge #4 - Spring Fling

Live with enthusiasm, years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
-General Douglas McArthur, U. S. General

In celebration of the recent vernal equinox, make a spring table centerpiece from materials you can freely access or have gathered from "nature." Chronicle both the process and your final masterpiece by next Monday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Smashing Spring Top by Julie

After weeks of 70 degree spring weather. I embarked on this weeks 'spring top' challenge looking out my window at 10" of snow. The biggest storm of the season. I couldn't resist wearing the new top even with the snow.
I tried Anna Maria Horner's 'Smashing Smock' pattern from her new book 'Seams to Me, 24 new reasons to love sewing'. I picked this book and pattern because I love, love, love her fabric designs and color combinations. If you haven't seen her work I suggest you check out her blog. annamariahorner.blogspot.com .

The patterns in the book are for mediums and she gives instructions for making them larger or smaller. I'm usually a medium so I went for it. Dug through my stash for a great fabric combo. Stayed up late sewing. It didn't fit, too small. I couldn't believe it.

First Top, too small

Once I came to terms with the fact that I would need to make another, larger version and that my 11 year old twin nieces would look smashing in the smock, I once again headed into my stash. I found a great base piece but didn't have the right coordinating piece for the yolk. After far to much fabric fun at Fancy Tiger, and extra fabric for Horner's 'Little Bo Peep' skirt. I settled on a piece by Rowan Fabrics. After adding two inches to each pattern piece the final top is roomy and comfortable. Can't wait for the next 70 degree day to give it a spin.

Second Top, just right!

My favorite part is the pale blue lining fabric!

Pale Blue Lining Fabric

Monday, March 23, 2009

Challenge #3

"Amateur: one who has a taste for something, one who does something solely for the love of it without attachment to outcome." Keri Smith

This week participate in the Made by Rae "Spring Top Week - you know you want to".


Please document your sewing adventure in photos and blogging! I will document our entries on the 'Made by Rae' website and flickr pool, once they are posted to our blog.

Julie's New & Old Experience

My original new experience was dinner at Arada Ethiopian Restaurant on Santa Fe Street in Denver. I went with my friend Jenny who was wearing mysterious sunglasses as her eyes were dilated from an eye exam. I was taking lots of notes, I can only imagine who or what the wait staff thought we were. The vegetarian combination plate was great, I would recommend it. I also plan on eating there again. But, this new experience was not where I found my inspiration this week.

My inspiration this week came from a walk with my one year old son Keenan. Keenan is new to walking just a few weeks and very excited about it. He wants to walk everywhere especially outside. So, Sunday morning he took my finger and lead me slowly around our block. I have walked this block hundreds or times. The new experience was doing so at one year old speed. It was delightful!

Keenan helped me see details that I have never noticed before. The rock mulch in my neighbors parking strip IS very pretty and it IS hard to choose which rock you want to carry until you find something cooler. The apartment building on the corner has colored sprinkler heads, you should touch each color just to make sure they feel the same, on that same note you should touch everything and try every set of stairs you pass. Something about climbing a strangers steps with a one year old made it feel ok and not wierd. By climbing these steps we found a magnolia tree in bloom and no one seems to have missed the one blossom we picked to carry with us, stopping to smell it every so often. In the end tucking it behind my ear.

The ideas I came away with:

1. Touch everything, you will be surprised by the textures you find. Make rubbings of these textures for future projects like note cards. How could you transfer some of these textures to fabric?

2. Open your eyes to inspiration in the everyday. That night after rinsing henna from my hair I found this pattern in the bath tub. Normally I would have shrugged at the mess and cleaned the tub. That day I hurried for my camera to capture the image. Tree? Watershed?

3. Color, what differences does color make in something. Before you start your next project, consider a couple of different color schemes.

Looking forward to my next exploration in my neighborhood with Keenan!

Ideas A-Grundle

This past weekend I spent time with my sister in Washington, DC. Our adventures naturally took us to places I'd never visited before so I had lots of opportunities to come up with three ideas I can implement in my work and life. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Blueberry buckwheat pancakes are served fresh every Saturday morning at Eastern Market, close to the Capitol in DC. Though I've made thousands of pancakes in my life, I've never made any with blueberries or buckwheat in them. That definitely will change going forward. Yum!

2. We went to lots of museums, particularly those in the Smithsonian family of museums. This was great from a personal enrichment/educational perspective and from a work perspective because my team creates kiosks and exhibits located in LDS Church visitor centers around the world. The Museum of American History had a cool area for kids that I particularly liked because it contained many interactive exhibits. One exhibit highlighted American inventors and gave kids lots of opportunities to create things out of various materials. The Sparks lab was one of those invention/creation stations where kids could literally conduct their own experiments. Another station provided a place for kids to create their own pinball "obstacle course" out of regular household utinsels. My sister and I thought the "obstacle course" we created was pretty cool. My takeaway from that experience is to work with my team to devise ways to incorporate more interactive elements within our exhibits as a result of my DC museum experiences.

3. Another great idea I learned from my sister was to create novel stir fry compilations. One night we had a stir fry medley of eggplant, green beans, asparagus, green olives, and baby tomatoes sautéed in olive oil and a little apple juice concentrate and lime juice. The, to me, unusual combination turned out to be entirely delicious. I'm definitely going to be more creative in my vegetable compilations in the future.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Second Challenge

Learning is not obtained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence. -Abigail Adams

Challenge #2:
Visit a place you've never been before and look for things you can learn from the experience and place. Come away from the experience with three ideas you can implement into your work or personal life/space. Post your three ideas (and any resulting applications) by next Monday.

Julie's Display Board

I was very excited to start on our first challenge/project. Tuesday night after my son Keenan was asleep I went looking for materials around our house. I started in the basement looking for some kind of base material. The first thing I considered was a big piece of soft foam that had come as packaging with a laptop computer. It was very squishy and although I thought it would work I wondered how you would attach things to it securely. Next I found left over foam insulation from installing our window air conditioning units. I decided this was perfect.

I then headed for my fabric stash which turned out to be a bit tricky as it is all stored in cloth boxes with Velcro closures in my son's room. So I had to carry each bin out of the room individually to open it and look for the right background fabric. I came upon this piece of fabric which oddly enough my ex-husbands great grandmother had given me around ten years ago. Normally I would have gone with something brighter and funkier, but it was going to be hanging in our bedroom (my current sewing area) and I needed it to be something my husband wouldn't mind. This was the perfect fit.

Watching online TV while working on the project (my guilty pleasure)

Ready to add the ribbon

The foam insulation proved to be very easy to work with. First I cut it to size with a utility knife (leaving little foam pellets on the floor for the cats to play in). Next I wrapped the foam with the fabric and stapled it to the back. Then I pulled the velvet ribbon pieces tightly and stapled to the back. Almost too easy. I was finished in about an hour. Since the fabric has a "map" theme I thought attaching things with stick pins would look like marking a map with places you have been or I can tuck things behind one of the ribbon bands.

Finished project ready for inspirations!

I was excited to finish so quickly and my husband even loved the final product. My only disappointment was that I finished the project so quickly and would have to wait until Monday to see Stephanie's version.

Stephanie's "Board Adaptation"

While I loved the idea of the "create an idea board" challenge, I knew early in the week that this was going to be more difficult than probably expected for two reasons: 1) I had few raw materials to utilize and 2) I have little wall space in my work room where I wanted the board to be located.

I stewed over and over the possibilities most of the week. Nothing seemed to be "the right solution." Mid week I had the idea to stray from the "board" concept, but returned to it quickly because I felt I needed to stick more closely to the assignment.

Finally, I returned to the "non-board" idea. Here's the final outcome, which, by the way, I love! I decided to use the front of my food storage shelves as idea-posting places. I particularly like this solution because I have lots and lots of space to post creative ideas (four full-length shelves full of space) and the creative ideas are literally right in front of my face whenever I walk into the room.

Monday, March 9, 2009

First Challenge

We shall not cease from exploration
and at the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
-T.S. Eliot, "The Four Quartets"

Challenge #1
Using only materials you can source for free, be that already owned, begged, borrowed or found. Make a display board for your ideas and things that inspire you to create. Please document your process and the final piece for posting by next Monday.