Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Banner Day

Over the summer, Kate's Primary teacher called with a request. For an end-of-year gift last school year, I made her a PEACE banner from fabric scraps and pieces of an upcycled wool blanket. Of course, I finished it the night before we were going to give it to her, so I didn't take pictures. But I knew it went with the whole philosophy of her school, since it was recycled, simple, and promoted peace. I loved it. Kate said her teacher loved it and actually screamed when she opened it, and she hung it up right away.

So I was thrilled when she called over the summer and wanted to know if I could make her another one. This time, she wanted to know if I could make one that read "The Children's House" so they could hang it in the entryway to the Primary hall in her school. Of course I could! This is what I made:




The design and styling were totally up to me, and I added a tree at one end and a house at the other. It now hangs in a prominent place in her school; Kate sees it every day as she walks down the hall to her own classroom. I know it makes her feel good to know it was made in our dining room. She even told one of her friends, "My mom and I made that." Unfortunately, she said her friend just looked at her blankly and said nothing, so I don't know what she thought....I prefer to think her friend's thought was, "Wow! That is so amazing that I am not sure what you mean when you say you and your mom made it. Is such a thing possible? Are you also saying that you can make ponies and rainbows and butterflies from scratch on your dining room table, too?"

Anyhoo, I loved it so much, and I had so much of the blanket left over, that I made a similar one for our own living room a couple weeks ago:



I absolutely love the way the banners make something ordinary look festive and special. And I adore the way they can easily be made from upcycled and recycled materials.

Last night, I made a traditional collegiate-style banner using stuff from the scrap basket:


The "ribbon" is a piece of a sheet; I cut it about 3" wide and folded it like bias tape to enclose the flags, which are pieces from other sheets or my scraps from other projects. The back of each flag is a piece of upcycled white fabric that came in a giant bag we got from a thrift store in the spring.

I'll make a Christmas one for our house. The simple, uncluttered design of it is soothing to me. I want to say CHRISTMAS without being gaudy or overdone or glam. Like Kate said today, the best part of holidays is spending time together. I want a flag that reflects that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

An embarrassment of riches

We've had a great day. There's no school for me or the kids today. We had a couple of parent/teacher conferences (I was the parent, not the teacher), and all is well. We made it to two different thrift stores, and both outings were massive successes. At the first, I picked up two pillowcases, two (brand new) Vera Bradley make up bags, and some sort of car racing, spring-loaded contraption that Joseph had his eye on. All for less than $5, total. I was feeling good. But then we went to the next store, killing a little time between conferences, and we spotted this:

What could be in the box? Someone's old bills? A severed head? It is, after all, almost Halloween, so anything seemed possible.

But it was even better.

I opened the box and discovered this:

Can you tell yet what it is? How about now?

Yep. It's a file box of over 60 (61, to be exact) vintage sewing patterns ranging from 1955 to 1990.

But it gets better.

ALL of the patterns are exactly my size. Every single one.

But it gets better.

The tag on the box said, "ALL IN BOX, $2.00."

Really? REALLY? I took it to the register to be sure. Just to make sure I was reading it right. The woman at the register said, "I think that's what it says, and that's what I'm going with." And to top it all off, I got a free Baby Ruth candy bar with my purchase, since it's almost Halloween.

So I got an entire box of vintage sewing patterns, all complete, all in my size, for only $2.00. And a candy bar, which I really appreciated, since I skipped breakfast. Plus, there's the bonus file box, which might come in handy for the bills I'm trying to organize. But that's neither here nor there right now. What's important here is my enormous, gigantic, fortuitous box of sewing patterns. Some of them have notations, in someone's actual handwriting, that say, "Pants fit great" or "Really uses 2 yards." The styles start out younger-looking with the styles from the 1960s and 1970s; as the patterns go through the 1980s, they look more like career wear, with more jackets and skirts and styles an older woman might wear. I feel like I've been given the opportunity to leaf through someone's whole life, via her sewing pattern catalog. What a privilege.

What a great afternoon.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Something new from something old: Mom & Me Circle Skirts

It's a balmy 80+ degrees here today. We went house hunting (!) for a new place in an old, old section of town, closer to the kids' schools and my husband's job. We stocked up on organic food at Costco. And, in continuing my love affair with the circle skirt tutorial over at MADE, I made matching Mommy and Me skirts for me and K, using a sheet I bought at Goodwill just yesterday.

Sigh. It has been a good day.

K and I have never had matching outfits. Ever. As similar as we are in so many ways, we've never done it. Until today.

We twirled


And laughed
And created something new from something old.

Yep. It was a good day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Folks Just Called Her "Yellow"

(It's true...although I know you'd never guess it from outward appearances, I am a closet Kenny Rogers fan. In a big way. Thanks for the inspiration for the title of this post, Kenny)

If you've not yet checked out MADE, please do yourself a favor and do so, ASAP. It's a treat for all of your senses, with awesome photography, inspiring projects, and, most importantly for me, honest and detailed and humorous (but not snarky and sarcastic) writing that never fails to impress me.

Dana's latest tutorial is for this circle skirt, which, true to her word, I whipped up in no time - in between last night's bedtime chores and planning for J's 8th birthday today and (kind of) cleaning up the kitchen, in fact. Mine is made from a vintage sheet which, completely coincidentally, is in YELLOW, which just happens to be the very color being celebrated over at MADE.

In fact, this whole project was fortuitous, in every way:

1. I have a quickly-growing pile of vintage sheets on my shelves, and since this project takes a good bit of fabric, the sheets were perfect. I love looking at those sheets, but I love working with them - and wearing them - even more.

2. Dana also provides a great tutorial for dyeing elastic...it provided the opportunity for one of those "Duh! I can't believe you didn't think of this yourself, Michelle!" moments for me, but in a good way. I've been looking for wide (2" - 3") elastic in any color OTHER than white or black for months, and it never once occurred to me to dye my own, even when I absolutely could not find any other colors, even though I have used fabric dye for many other projects in the past. I wanted to make a gathered skirt with exposed elastic for quite a while, but my lack of elastic options was holding me back...well, that and my lack of motivation, and the fact that I don't have enough time to complete the hundreds of projects floating around in my head, and the fact that I promised to make two dresses for K's school auction last week, and the fact that the bathroom needs to be scrubbed. But I digress. Dyed elastic, you've opened up a whole new world for me. I thank you. My grungy bathroom, not so much.

3. I happened to have 2" wide white elastic, right here at the house, which meant I didn't have to go out to the fabric store (always a good thing, according to my husband). I also happened to have just one package of RIT dye in...you guessed it, yellow.

4. I made a skirt like this last fall for K, based on a project I saw on Stylelicious (you are sorely missed, HGTV favorite) a couple of years ago. I made a wrap-around, reversible version, which I really liked, but I wanted to simplify the project before I made another. Lo and behold, I came across the exposed-elastic tutorial, and I knew it was meant to be.

I am in love with it. Love, I say! I plan to make a couple more this weekend. I love the swing of it, the fact that I can use vintage sheets (or any upcycled, lightweight fabric) to make it, the retro look...everything. We're driving right past the fabric store tomorrow, which means I can pick up more elastic and more dye, too.

Some things are just meant to be.