Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Hat

I wear a lot of hats. Not the cute cloches or buckets, or even a jaunty fedora. C'mon, I have curly hair! Major hat hair problems there. No, the hats I wear are of the proverbial kind: wife, mother, teacher, chef, laundress, knitter, seamstress... the list goes on. You likely have a similar assortment in your closet.

This past week I was able to try on a new hat for size - that of wedding florist and decorator! Daunting? Yes. Intimidating? Yes. Risky? Yes. Exciting? Yes. Fun? YES YES YES!! A church member asked me and another friend to "do up" her wedding. She ordered roses, hydrangeas, and peacock feathers and left the rest up to us, for the most part. Peacock feathers! Cool, eh?

It's one thing to see all the lovely DIY wedding projects on a computer screen, but it's quite another to pull it off yourself. Neither of us had done floral arrangements before. Ever. Decorating, however, we felt much more confident with.

I won't drag you through the whole long 3-month long process we went through to get to the big day, but I will share the results. I apologize for the blurry photos. I was a bit sleep-deprived and buzzed on coffee.

blue, silver, and peacock feathers were the predominant theme - bows like this adorned the pews and church windows.

one of two floral arrangements for the sanctuary - roses, hydrangeas, and feathers! I can't believe I didn't take any photos of the bride's bouquet or any corsages or boutenniers! Everyone wore peacock feathers, some with roses, some with baby's breath and blue ribbon. We are thankful to the bald peacocks that are roaming about somewhere.

a gymnasium was transformed into a atmospheric reception hall for 300 guests - blue organza table overlays with the church's matching blue chairs (our luck!) laid out under twinkly blue-ish LED Christmas lights

here's a closeup of the stage/backdrop area - my years of set design in high school paid off! The cake went on the central table. Pretty much everything you see was scrounged out of friends' homes, including the orchid arrangement on the pedestal. One of my grandmother's brooches was pinned in the center of the rosette above the feathers! The curtain hid a big drum set and other on-the-stage uglies.

Betta fish added to the exotic feel set by the peacock feathers. Each table had a mirror, feathers, marbles, and a blue betta fish. Flower seed packets were given away to guests, hand-stamped with the couple's new peacock monogram (designed by moi). Lots of families who helped went home with a new pet! The kids loved it! And speaking of kids - there were a LOT of them at this wedding! What's better than for little ones to see a Godly couple modelled for them? All the energy from the punch and sweet tea they guzzled was released through English country dancing. All ages joined in - all ages had a blast! That's my daughter in the gold shrug - and WHO is the guy next to her?? Hmmmm....

The cake was made by another talented church member. I was surprised to see the monogram pop up here, too! Aren't those blue chocolate roses amazing? I need to sit by this woman's side and learn her art so I can add another hat to my wardrobe!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

girls and dolls

I remember drawing paper dolls as a girl with my mom and sister, spending hours holding papers up to the windows, tracing all kinds of wild outfits and dresses for the dolls my mom so graciously drew for us. I still have one of those dolls from when I was about 10, and looking back at the dresses I drew then is a real hoot!

And now my daughter is drawing her own dolls and dresses. When she was younger, I would draw countless "princesses" in their skivvies for her to make clothes for, but now I encourage her to draw her own people. A little creative direction, some new watercolor pencils, and a cup of hot cocoa was all she needed to get rolling. I find that encouraging kids to draw stylized or cartoon people helps relieve some of the frustrations that can develop when they try to get things "just right." Personal expression and style tends to flourish this way, too. Of course, copying someone else's drawing is good practice, too. Confidence builds over time.
We used old cereal boxes with a primer of gesso. After it dried, we put down a light pencil drawing to get the basic shapes, and then added the color. The watercolor pencils are very flexible, a tool I'm still exploring and enjoying immensely. We tried lightly coloring with them then smudging the color with damp paper towels. That seemed too large for the delicate drawings. Cotton swabs were perfect for blending colors and still maintaining control. Outlines and other details were then added with colored pencil, pens, pencil.

Here's her work in progress, complete with green ballgown and hat to match!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

February Lady Sweater

I'm so excited to share this with you! I just finished this sweater, and I couldn't be happier with it. The yarn, Shepherd's Wool, is so extrememly soft without a hint of itchiness. It's spun in a mill near East Jordan, Michigan by little woodland fairies (ok, maybe not, but I can't come up with any other reason why 100% wool is so soft and wonderful). The pattern is the famous February Lady Sweater. Maybe not famous to you, but if you visit the Ravelry site, you'll see there are over 10,000 people who've made this pattern!

This is the perfect spring sweater. 3/4 length sleeves, open airy lace to ventilate, and just-warm-enough-wool to chase the chill. Did I mention I love this sweater?!

The buttons reminded me of the silver and turquois jewelry that is found in all the knick-knack shops in Northern Michigan. They were on clearance for $0.50 each - gotta love that! But I think I need to move the 2nd button - see that ripple on the button band? I can't decide if it's because the button is in the wrong spot or if they're a bit heavy for this fabric. I might add a grosgrain ribbon facing to stabilize the button bands. In a contrasting color, perhaps? It seems to lay flat while I'm wearing it now. My 8 yr old photographer isn't into photo styling details (yet).

Spring can drag it's feet all it wants. Look for me snuggled up in blue!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Miss Madeline

Miss Madeline Dress
It's time to welcome spring: with COLOR!!! I just finished this super-easy dress for my daughter, and she loves it. The pattern is called "Miss Madeline" from The Handmade Dress. I've wanted to make a peasant style dress for a long time, but always felt a bit intimidated by the amount of elastic (and thus casings) that it involved. This pattern made it all very simple and pain-free! The directions claim it is a 2 hour pattern to sew, but realistically I think you need 3.
Miss Madeline Dress
The fabrics are mostly from a half-yard bundle of Mezzanine by Patty Young I picked up at the recent quilt show. I pieced the skirt instead of cutting the entire dress from a single fabric. I say the more colors and patterns, the merrier! The bodice is cut from Verna, by Kate Spain (leftover from my recent Verna baby quilt).
Miss Madeline Dress
All that elastic was great, because I could customize the fit. I made the largest size, 10. The neckline turned out way too low according to the pattern directions, so I just cinched up that elastic to where I wanted it before stitching it together. My daughter was very adamant that the waistband not be tight to her body, so we adjusted that accordingly as well. I cut the skirt longer for her super-long legs. She says it is very comfortable and easy to play in. I love her leggings and cowboy boot style - totally her!
I loved this pattern so much I plan to make another one, this time with long sleeves and adding a vintage tea towel as a faux-apron. I think she'd appreciate some pockets, too. Most kids are collectors, after all. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Verna" Baby Quilt

Verna baby quilt
Finished! A baby blanket using the fabric line "Verna" (not for a baby named Verna!) designed by Kate Spain for Moda. These spring colors were a real shot in the arm to work with during a bleak January.
Verna baby quilt
One charm pack, plus some yardage for the backing and binding.
Verna baby quilt
details of handquilting: I used perle cotton in a light pink color and standard quilting thread.
Verna baby quilt
Just looking at these colors makes me itch for spring!