Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Friday, May 31, 2013

Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairy Quilt

Look what I made in little snippets of time over the past week...a quilt!  (Yes, I do still have a queen sized quilt top that needs to be layered with batting, backing, and then quilted, but we won't talk about that right now!)  The design is my own.  Each square measures 6", and the whole quilt is approximately 59"x 77".
On a recent trip to my favorite fabric store, I came across this lovely panel of fabric by Michael Miller, depicting the Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairies.  I fell in love with the vibrant blues and purples and instantly knew it had to come home with me, especially since it was the last one.  (I couldn't let it slip away and regret it later, now could I?)  I had all the fabrics I needed in my stash to complete the piecing for the top, except I did splurge and buy the white print with pretty bluebirds in the snowball block because it matched so perfectly.  But it really wasn't too much of an expense since the fabric was on sale for only $4 a yard.  I adore little birds, and I figured that since fairies and birds both have wings, they could work together on a quilt.
Close up of the sweet, little, bluebird fabric.  I bought 2 yards and still have over a yard left over from this quilt, so I'm sure this print will show up in some future projects.
This quilt has two layers of cotton batting, as all my recent quilts do, because I love how warm and substantial this makes them feel.  I also always use flannel for the backing.  This one matched so perfectly with it's purple and green flower design on a crisp, white background.
I used a simple geometric quilting design across the blocks and borders, but since I didn't want random stitches possibly wandering across the fairies' faces in the center panel, I outlined each fairy with a simple machine stitch to hold all the layers together.
Before this quilt was even pieced together, Sophie claimed it for her own.  She was the only one of my kids for whom I hadn't yet made a large quilt.  Problem solved!  She was so excited when I said it could be all hers.  Every day she inquired about it's state of completion, and whether or not it would be ready for her to snuggle up with that evening.  Tonight is finally the night!
And just because I don't have enough fabric to keep me busy for the rest of my life, I purchased a second  Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairy panel.  How cute is it?  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Yet Another McCall's #5793, and a Little Something for Myself

Here we go again with McCall's # 5793!

This pattern goes together so nicely.  I can definitely see making it many more times.
The main fabric was an Alexander Henry print I've had in my stash for quite some time--vintage children that remind me of Dick and Jane.
The upper bodice, sleeves, and apron are made from the same, floral Riley Blake fabric that I used in the Happy Ric Rac dress several posts ago.
The apron is edged in red ric rac and permanently attached at the waist seam.
Yellow cotton ric rac trims the upper bodice and the hem band.
Here's a close up of the ric rac edging the cute and retro looking!
Yellow buttons close the back.  Sometimes I'll use an invisible zipper, but I really prefer the look of buttons.
The apron has a center pocket, cut from an antique, embroidered table linen.  I love the vintage feel it gives to the dress.
  I realize that I am very fortunate to have a child that's willing to model all my creations, and truly loves wearing dresses.  I hope it lasts for awhile!
And here's a little something I whipped up for myself--a new skirt, based on a favorite, thrifted skirt  I already own.  It has a simple, elastic waistband.  I found the fabric on a super-sale, and just fell in love with the print and color.  I instantly knew it was going to become a skirt.
Okay, here's a dorky picture of me.  Since I always ask Sophie to twirl around in her dresses, I decided to twirl in my new skirt!  The beautiful, warm weather we have had for the past several weeks decided to take a vacation, so today it was quite windy, cool, and rainy at times.  That is why I am wearing leggings.  I hate having cold legs!  But I do love the feeling of moist earth and grass between my toes.  My 16 year old behind the camera was so embarrassed.  I think it's kind of funny.  Hopefully, someday, she'll look at this picture  and joyfully reflect on the memory of her mother acting silly.
This picture has nothing at all to do with sewing.  But I just had to show the fresh radishes I picked straight from my garden for dinner tonight.  They were delicious!  I remember sprinkling salt on them when I was a little girl, and eating them by the handful.  I've trained myself away from the salt, but I could still eat these in large quantities.  Radishes are so easy to grow and provide near instant gratification--they germinate quickly and are ready to eat in less than a month.  I will be planting other varieties throughout the summer, just to taste-test and see which ones I like best.
Tomorrow I'm off to teach the same little group of girls (whom I taught to make the pillowcase dresses a couple of weeks ago) how to make a pair of pants for their dolls.  Should be fun.  I'll be back with a report, and hopefully some pictures.  I don't intend to forget my camera this time!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day, Gardening, and a New Bye Lo Baby!

This is me, at about 3 months of age, with my mother.  Can you tell I'm a child of the 60's?  The bouffant hairdo, pedal pusher pants and smock top totally give it away.  I just love the baby carriage.  Can you believe my father threw it away many years ago?  He is not sentimental when it comes to "stuff", and probably figured that it was just taking up space.  'Sigh'.  I have, however, forgiven him.  He is my father, after all!  This picture is especially precious to me, since my mother passed away almost four years ago.  I can't believe it's been that long since I last saw her smile, heard her voice, and felt her touch.  If you are fortunate enough to still have your mother around, give her a hug and tell her you love her.  One day, sooner than you expect, she won't be there anymore.  And then there will be so many things you wish you would have said.  Trust me.
For the past week, we have been having some "too good to be true" weather for our neck of the woods.  Temperatures in the 80's and plenty of sun...enough to make one think that summer has arrived!  Sophie loves helping me in the garden--here she is, working the dirt in one of my garden boxes.
This is my compost area.  The bin on the left is finished compost, ready to be used.  The one in the middle has compost partially finished, and the black bin on the right is for our fresh food scraps.  I like that it has a lid so that it keeps out any wild critters that may be attracted to it.
I never in a million years thought I'd be taking a picture of dirt, much less posting it on my blog, but I'm just so proud of my finished compost pile!  Isn't it beautiful?  I suppose you'd have to be a gardener to appreciate it, but it just makes me so happy to think that all those food scraps, grass clippings, and leaves turned into this awesome, nutrient rich soil.  My plants are going to love it.
I currently have seven raised beds.  One is filled with perennial herbs and a birdbath, but the others are open for whatever I feel like planting this year.  Today I planted one of the boxes with five heirloom tomatoes, nine melon plants, a row of yellow carrots, and marigolds to deter bugs.  Our beautiful weather turned to rain today, so I didn't get to spend as much time outside as I would have liked.  I hope to add some radishes and onions into this bed tomorrow, if it doesn't rain too hard.
Here is my version of a mini greenhouse.  I've wanted a full size greenhouse for a long time now, but it just never seems to be in the budget.  However, a few weeks ago, I finally bought a cheap one made of narrow metal pipes and a plastic cover.  I was so excited, but alas, it only lasted about two weeks before it started to fall apart.  So back to the store it went.  I have since improvised, and discovered a system that works fairly well.  The above picture shows a clear, plastic storage box, filled with seeds planted in 5 oz. plastic cups.  I keep the lid on until the seeds sprout, and then I set the box out on the patio with the lid off during the day.  At night, the lid goes back on to trap the warmth and keep the little seedlings warm.  Once the seedlings are big enough, they are transplanted into the garden.  Because they have been spending their time out on the patio, they are already acclimated to the weather and don't need to be "hardened off".
Here's a close up of the box.  I picked it up at Walmart for around $5.
The seed starting mix and the little plastic cups are also from Walmart.  I believe I paid $1.98 for 100 cups, and the seed mix was $6.
Here's a sampling of some of the things I planted today.  The box holds 53 of these 5 oz. cups.  If you decide to try this, make sure and poke holes into the bottom of the cups for drainage before filling them.  I used an awl.  The nice thing about this method is that you can use a Sharpie to write directly on the cup, and then they can be reused next year, if you like.
Have you read this book?  It's a great help when it comes to squeezing in as many vegetables into a small of a space as possible.  It's also great for telling you which plants like to be planted with others, and how to make a great garden soil.  I refer to this book a lot.
Here's my Happy Birthday/Happy Mother's Day gift to antique Bye Lo Baby!  Ever since I got my tiny, 8" one, I've been dreaming of also owning a large one.  This one measures 18" in length, with a head circumference of 15"--life size!  I'm going to dig through my vintage, baby, clothing stash tomorrow and see if I can find her a sweater/bonnet set.  I think she'll be fun to dress.
My husband cooked me a wonderful meal for Mother's Day (salmon on the barbeque, my favorite!), and snapped this great picture of me with six of my offspring.  My oldest son was sick and couldn't make it, and my second son is currently stationed in Colorado with the Army.  He and his wife will be transferred to our area by the end of the year, so next Mother's Day I look forward to having all my children around me again.  I can hardly wait!  Hope you had a great Mother's Day, also.  Now, get outside and plant something!

Friday, April 26, 2013

American Girl Doll Pillowcase Dresses


Today I taught a little sewing class to three, 10 year old girls.   I was asked several weeks ago if I would be interested in doing something like this, and I didn't figure out until yesterday what I was going to have them sew!  (Yeah, I'm a procrastinator.)  Anyway, I ended up with this project:
Pillowcase dresses!  I found an easy pattern online, (there are several) but as usual, I changed it up a bit because I can never make a pattern exactly like it says.  My version has a ruffle at the hem.  I added the ruffle because I wanted to teach the little girls how to gather fabric.   Since doll clothes are smaller, this seemed like an easy way to do it.
All of the girls had a sewing machine, and knew how to use it.  Two of them had some previous experience sewing a pillowcase, but I don't think the other one had any experience at all.  I wish I had brought my camera along and taken pictures of their completed dresses, but I forgot!  So you'll just have to take my word for it that they turned out every bit as nicely as my two prototypes above.
The first dress I made (the pink one) ties at both shoulders and has white ric rac trim above the ruffle.  The armholes ended up just a wee bit snug for my liking, so I cut the blue dress with slightly larger armholes and it fits great.  It has one, continuous ribbon through the casings and ties on just one shoulder.  White, cluny lace trims the ruffle.
It's hard to tell in the photos, but I even made some matching capris for the pink dress, also trimmed with ric rac.  If I teach more sewing classes to these girls, then making these capris may be next on my list.  All in all, it was a good experience.  Between me and the other mom, we were able to iron the pieces in between sewing, over-see correct seam allowances, and just offer guidance in general.  But the girls did great.  The only area where they had a bit of trouble was adding the bias trim around the armholes.  The bias was narrow and finicky to work with, so maybe next time I would make it a little wider so that they could handle it easier.  I really had a good time passing on some sewing skills to the next generation.  It's such a wonderful skill to have!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Seeds and Patterns

I had two things I wanted to get accomplished today:  plant my flower seeds, and pick up some McCall patterns from JoAnn's while they're on sale for a buck a piece.  The above picture shows all the little vegetable seedlings I started last month.  I had been saving all those plastic containers that my organic, baby spinach leaves come in just for this purpose.  I don't usually like to buy things in plastic, but I knew that these containers would make great, little greenhouses!   I kept the lids on until the seedlings became too tall.  Each tub holds six, medium sized peat pots.  I don't have any grow lights, so I set them out on my patio table each morning, and then bring them in again at night.  So far, this has been working great, and the seedlings look healthy.   Once the nights start to get a little warmer, I will leave them out all night, too.  So far, I have pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and broccoli growing.
I went a little crazy with the flower seeds this year!  I don't usually plant flowers, just vegetables, but I decided to shake things up a little.  After spending nearly an hour in the garden department of my favorite, one-stop shopping store, I ended up with 18 seed packets in my cart.  But hey, they were half off, so how could I resist?  There are three different varieties of zinnias, two different sweet peas, three different sunflowers, nasturtiums, baby's breath, snap dragons, and lots others.  I'm excited to see how they do.  I'm being optimistic and envisioning a yard full of flowers, come this summer. 
I used these Jiffy seed trays that had 72 plastic compartments each.  In other words, if every little seedling sprouts, I will have 216 flowers to plant.  216!  Crazy, I know.  But lots of fun, too. 
I got five of my seven raised garden boxes weeded a couple of weeks ago, so I hope to get some vegies planted in them this weekend, if we get any dry weather.  Spinach, lettuce, radishes, peas, kale, swiss chard and broccoli can all be planted now.  I really want to have a nice garden this year, and hopefully help out our food budget with home grown produce.
And yes, I did make it to JoAnn's today.  Here are the patterns I came home with.  The coat pattern isn't very summery, I know, but I figured it would be nice to have on hand for the fall.  The other patterns each have different elements that I want to incorporate into Sophie's dresses for the summer.  I think I'm going to start with the pattern on the top right; it has a cross-over bodice which is a different look from the typical, little girl dresses I've sewn.  Tomorrow, I head over to my favorite fabric store with my best friend for their big sale.  I'm going to try to resist buying too much fabric, but I anticipate coming home with at least a couple of pretty prints!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Patty Play Pal Dress...again!

So, I brought the Patty Play Pal dress over to my friend, eager to see it on her doll.  And, horror of horrors, it didn't fit!  Actually, the entire dress fit fine except for the neckline, and that's where it was about 1 1/2" too small.  I could have cried.  Oh, well.  That teaches me not to have the doll in my possession (or at least important measurements) when I sew for it!  I was a little perplexed, though, since I had followed the pattern exactly.  It just goes to show, I guess, that you always need to measure and try things on often to check fit.  This goes for people as well as dolls!
I brought the outfit (and the doll!) back home, in order to alter the dress.  This entailed ripping out the entire back seams and snaps on both sides, adding a new, wider facing, and moving the skirts over to meet the new width.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate sewing snaps?  They're not difficult, but they are time consuming.  And there were five sets, which I ended up sewing on twice.  That means 20 little snaps.  Ugghhh.
This dress so reminds me of the dresses I used to wear when I was a kid.  Puffy sleeves, short skirts, and big bows.  Such a classic, little girl look.
Isn't this doll lovely?  My little Sophia was entranced with her...she would dance with her and have lengthy conversations with her, as if Patty Play Pal were a real child.  Of course, this doll was originally marketed as a "companion" for children, so I suppose they got it right! 
She will be going back to her house soon.  And while this is not generally the type of doll I like to collect, I must say that I will be a bit sad to see her go.  I can certainly see the appeal of owning a doll like this--she can wear real children's clothing (2-3T) and is fun to display--kind of like a mannequin.  When I was a kid, I used to love looking at the mannequins in the big department stores, like Meier & Frank's and Nordstroms.  They looked like real people.  I always wanted to take one of the babies home with me.  Today's mannequins are horrible, I think.  A lot of them are headless, and if they do have heads, they are void of features.  Actually, now that I think of it, Old Navy has nice mannequins that look like real people.  Hmmm.  I think I'm starting to talk myself into owning a mannequin someday.  Or maybe I should just get my own Patty Play Pal?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

New Dress for a Gebruder Heubach 10532 Antique Doll

A dear, elderly friend once asked if I could create a dress for her antique doll, a Gebruder Heubach 10532.  I have had this doll in my possession for at least four months.  Shameful, right?  I felt so bad every time my patient friend asked about her!  Yesterday, I finally decided to tackle the project.
My friend gave me a lady's pink, cotton gauze skirt in which to cut up for the doll's dress.  Her only real request was that the dress be a "drop-waist".
It took me the better part of several hours to draft the bodice pattern.  I knew I wanted tucks, so that's what the took the longest in the drafting.  Once that was completed, the dress went together fairly quickly.  I especially love how the two-part sleeves turned out, and they only took me one try to get them right!
At first, I was going to add lace underneath each tuck, but then I decided on machine feather stitching instead.  I love how it turned out.
The bodice is completely lined and closes in back with snaps.  There are two skirts, each edged with vintage lace.
The bow wasn't part of my original design, but after I finished the dress, it just felt like it needed something more.  It is secured to the dress with a safety pin so that it can be easily removed, if necessary.
Please excuse her wonky-looking doll stand wasn't quite tall enough for this doll and it caused her leg to stick out a a funny angle.  She is really a pretty girl, and quite a rare mold number.  She stands about 24" tall on a composition body.  I am anxious to deliver her to my friend and see her reaction.  I sure she has probably given up on me!