amelia’s baby clothes quilt {sewing projects}

It’s finished! The quilt is finished! I actually finished it a while ago (last week?) but between the traveling and general chaos in my life right now I just haven’t had time to put together a proper blog post about it. Well that and I haven’t been able to get a decent picture of the darn thing and I didn’t want to blog it with bad pictures. But I *still* can’t get a good shot of it so I am giving up 🙂 Bad pictures it is. These are “fresh from the dryer” rumply quilt goodness – although I promise in person it doesn’t look quite so wompy, it actually looks quite nice. I just can’t figure out how to convey it in images. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it.

This project was a HUGE undertaking and I just kept adding on to it as I went along. Originally I was just planning on spending a few days on it but it ended up being a two week process. I am by no means an expert quilter so I consulted a huge list of online tutorials (thank you google!) for all of the various steps along the way. The overall design/layout of the quilt is thanks to a Moda Bake Shop tutorial for a stacked coin baby quilt. I loved the look of the quilt and I also liked the fact that all of the pieces were small, which meant I could use even the tiniest of Amelia’s old clothes. I did tweak it a little, adding in two square pieces in each row to make sure that I could save any big appliques or extra cute pockets that might not fit on a 2.5×5 inch rectangles. It’s important if you’re going to add squares to add the same number to each row since it will change the total length of the row (it’s not the same as just substituting for two rectangles because it won’t have the seam allowance if that makes sense – maybe a no-brainer but just in case 🙂 )

The first of many “oh this won’t take *that* long” moments I had was in cutting up all of the pieces. I seriously underestimated how many outfits I would need (I think it was around 35?) and how many pieces I would have to cut total. I also decided early on that I would use interfacing on any of the knit pieces like onesies and jammies (which was all but about 3 outfits) so that it would be easier to sew with them and keep all the lines neat and even. I’m glad that I did it but MAN did that ever take a long time. I worked for days and all I had to show for it was a pile of rectangles. The piecing of the top actually went fairly quickly, the hardest part for me was deciding what order the rectangles should go in. I spent hours staring at it and shuffling them around until Ben finally told me I was over-thinking it (he was right).

I was originally going to use a piece of cute quilting cotton I’d picked up at the fabric store for the back (with the little stripe that’s included in the tutorial of course) but it just didn’t look *quite* right so I decided to go with a couple of receiving blankets instead. They weren’t quite wide enough to cover the entire back so I ended up using a border of the same white sashing that was on the front. I think it turned out quite nicely.

I saw a bunch of great tutorials on free motion quilting and quilting in fun patterns, but honestly I was a little worried about just completely ruining all of my hard work (and Amelia’s baby clothes) by sewing nonsense on top of it. So I opted for stitching the ditch instead. It seems like it would be pretty straightforward but I still wanted some tips. While super brief, I found this explanation pretty helpful, especially the part about stitching to one side of the seam… it worked out well (I think). I stitched down each of the long vertical seams and along every other horizontal ladder line in the center of the quilt and around all of the borders as well.

The binding was the next unbelievably long and involved piece of the puzzle. I had used before and really liked Heather Bailey’s quilt binding tutorial so I was planning on using that, but I also knew I wanted to use bias binding tape and I wasn’t sure what the most efficient way to cut it was, so I consulted google again and found this tutorial on cutting bias binding. Quite clever indeed. I also found this other bias binding tutorial and they’re pretty much the same as each other, I just preferred using a square so I went with the first one. I actually made my binding quite thin, I think on the next go around I might make it thicker, Ben thinks it looks nice as is. We’ll see. My main problem with most quilt binding tutorials is that they just say “hand stitch the back” once you’ve gotten to the end, and I have no idea what that means. What kind of stitch should I use? How do I tie the knot? Are you kidding, that’s all the instructions you’re going to give me?! So off to google (yet again) and I came up with this gem of a tutorial on ladder stitching quilt binding. Perfect! Her tutorial on making a quilter’s knot also pretty much changed my life – I had no idea knots could be so easy 🙂

So the quilt was – well – quilted. Bound. Almost ready to go! The last step was a label. I knew I wanted to do something embroidered but I wasn’t sure how. While I do own an embroidery hoop (purchased for some never-attempted screen printing project years ago) I had never actually done any embroidery so I consulted the internet (yet again) to find out what the basic steps were. I ended up using this site to learn the chain stitch – which I’m pretty sure was never intended to write letters with but oh well. I didn’t know any better so I did. They didn’t turn out perfectly but I still like it.

I wanted to make it a heart shape since I loved the label so much on this quilt that my grandmother made me when I was little. I was fretting about getting the embroidery just right on Amelia’s because I remember it being so perfectly done on my grandmother’s – and it turns out hers wasn’t perfect either (who knew?!) so I’m hoping that Amelia remembers hers fondly (and with less imperfections) the way that I remember mine being so meticulously crafted (mistakes and all)

I’m pretty sure that the best part of the quilt (and anything I’ve ever made for Amelia to be honest) was watching her reaction when I gave it to her. She pretty much loves it to pieces. She squeals with delight and yells “night night!” when she sees it. She wants to take a nap on it and snuggle with it and generally love it (which was the idea so I couldn’t be happier). She also loves to sit on it and point out all of the little animals and birds. It’s pretty darn cute.

Now I just need to make Paul’s 🙂 Oh. And in case you didn’t see the first two “in progress” posts on the quilt, they can be found here and here.

amelia’s baby clothes quilt {sewing projects}

A serious dose of nostalgia {ramblings}

Ben and I just got back from a trip to Texas. Not just Texas, but Houston specifically. And while we were there we went and visited our alma mater, Rice. Now – we graduated (the first time) over 5 years ago and haven’t been back since our second graduation which was 4 years ago. I knew that a lot had changed in the meantime (new dorms on campus, a new coffee house and new gym) and I was prepared for those changes. What I think surprised me was how unprepared I was to see the things that HAVEN’T changed.

When we landed in Houston it was a bit like having deja vu. You know you’ve been to this airport before, down this freeway before, on these streets before. Everything is just a little, well, hazy. We went straight from the airport to one of our favorite cheap sandwich shops in midtown where the banh mi was (thankfully) just every bit as delicious as we remembered it to be, and then headed off to Rice’s campus for a quick peek before meeting a friend for drinks. Had I known how disorienting the trip to Rice were going to be I might have voted to put it off until we had a bit more time to decompress. I’m really not sure what I *thought* it was going to be like walking back onto the campus – and I have been trying to come up with a succinct explanation of the feeling I had when I got there ever since it happened, but I’m still not quite sure how to describe it.

The first thing I noticed was that Houston (and the campus in particular) is so much more lush and beautiful than I remember. When I first moved there as a freshman I remember thinking how ugly it was (and I still don’t think it’s as beautiful as San Diego) but a few years in Los Angeles have put it into an entirely different light and I can now see that it’s just overflowing with gorgeous old trees and it really is quite striking. We didn’t have much time so we parked on the loop and put on our flashers outside of Anderson. Just stepping out of the car into the sticky heat with the sound of blinking hazard lights brought back a flood of memories and I hadn’t even stepped foot in the building. We walked up to the back door, expecting it to be locked, but it easily swung open when we pulled the handle. Inside the school was in a state of transition – half of the studios looked as if they’d been cleared out for the summer while the other half looked like at any minute they might be filled with students, working and talking and generally creating chaos. Seeing it all again was like waking up an old part of myself that had been somehow sleeping for the last 4 years.

When we moved out of Houston back in 2006 it was hectic to say the least. We had just come back from a semester abroad and were planning our wedding. We were finishing up our final semester of studio and looking for our first “real” jobs after school. We were doing all of this while subletting a small apartment from another student and looking for a real home in Los Angeles. All of my energy was focused on getting out and moving on. The crazy pace continued after the wedding – I quit my job and started my photography business, we decided to try to have kids and I ended up getting pregnant with twins. The last two and a half years have been filled with more insanity than the rest of my life combined and I guess I just never stopped to look around and see where my life was going. It’s not that I think that my life went in the wrong direction – I’m quite happy with where I am right now – it’s just that I had never really stopped to glance back at where I came from. Being in that building was like all of the sudden being the 20 year old version of myself again. Remembering what it was that I loved about being an architecture student and how many hopes I had for the future. It was a bit of a shock to the system to say the least.

I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I started rambling at full speed (much like I’m doing now I’m sure) and telling Ben how I wanted to come back and take pictures when we had more time. He said “oh yeah because the last time you were here you didn’t know anything about that” to which I gave an insulted harrumph. I had taken photography classes in high school, didn’t that count for anything? He graciously reminded me that while I may have known how to use a camera, my life didn’t at that point revolve around the camera. My lenses hadn’t yet been a way for me to see and express my views on the world. Fair enough. I’ll give you that. So on Sunday afternoon, just before heading off to dinner and the airport, we revisited the campus with camera in hand. I wanted to make sure to remember all of the little things that had become fuzzy in my memory after all of the years I had been away.

Like the shape of the handrail as you walked up the stairs

Or the way you always saw people across the way on that funny little balcony landing.

The way that people always stopped to look down into the jury room from above

Or all of the gorgeous natural light that flooded into that room

The crazy mishmash of chairs that were always floating around the building and the way they sat in a huddle, like a critique just let out and everyone was in such a hurry to get to dinner that they couldn’t be bothered to put them back

That funny motion detector light that someone installed as part of a project, and the way that all the students after all of their years left an impression on the building

The weird spaceship lighting in the long white halls

And the porthole windows

To go with the round nubby floors

I also wanted to remember the things I hadn’t ever noticed, like how the color of the overhead lighting was so warm compared with the crisp cool light streaming in through the windows. So deceptively cool in tone that you might actually forget that it was sweltering hot outside.

And the brick hallways

Or tree lined walkways

How many countless times I’d walked up them and never stopped to think about how pretty they were. I was always so BUSY

A serious dose of nostalgia {ramblings}

clear as mud {ramblings}

This is going to be rambling. Bear with me.

My poor old cell phone is dying. It won’t hold a charge, it likes to turn itself off and sometimes (just to be fun) it holds voicemail or text messages hostage, not letting me know that I have them for days at a time. I think it’s time for a new one. So Ben and I happily trotted off to the sprint store this weekend (as happily as you can when you know you’re about to attempt a cell phone purchase with two toddlers in tow) to check out the options. We have been off of our cell phone contract for a few years now and actually like not being beholden to anyone. We always say “we could switch any time”… so we walk into the store with two options in mind. Either we resign our contract (hopefully for the same price we’re currently paying) and get free phones out of the deal (sweet!) or we just pay out of pocket for the phone and carry on our merry contract free way.

Of course Sprint had other plans. No, you can’t just get a new phone for your current plan because your current plan is OLD and we want you to have the NEW one… so if you get a new phone you have to get a new plan. Ok, so basically the options are A) keep awesomely priced plan and trade in my smartphone for a dumb old regular phone or B) get a new smartphone and change plans to one that costs almost $50 more per month (grr)

Not satisfied with either option I went into a flurry of research. Comparing plans within Sprint, comparing Sprint to other carriers. I even made a spreadsheet with costs of different plans per month and cost of phones up front and how it all pans out across two years of use (no, I’m not kidding, how sad and nerdy am I?) Try to figure in things like possible AAA discounts (which are always sketchy and some people think they exist and others don’t) and varying fees (some companies have activation, others don’t, some places waive the fees if you purchase from them and others don’t) and at the end of the day all I have to show for hours of research is a big old headache. And I’m still not sure what we should do.

I know they do it on purpose, if it were simple or easy to understand and choose then what would be the fun in that? But come on. I just want a phone. I just want it to work and I don’t want to go broke paying for it. Is that so much to ask? Apparently the answer is yes.

clear as mud {ramblings}