Saturday, May 30, 2009

Doll Quilt Swap!

This book has been a constant companion to my bedside table for about a year now. At least once a week you'll find me flipping through the pages in awe of these tiny treasures which, as the title states, were made not only for children, but often by children themselves. In a world without housework and such I imagine myself making a replica of each and every one of the doll quilts featured within! Wouldn't that be a fun and extravagant way to spend the days!

Not so very many years ago I actually did make a doll quilt for a child. It was a Christmas present for my sweet pea of a daughter who was having a very "American Girl" holiday. I picked the colors to match the embroidery on the doll's nightgown and slipper set she was also receiving. With a few extra patches I whipped up a matching pillow so the set could be complete.
While the assortment of fabrics was great eye candy to work with, it was the print used for the backing that was my ultimate favorite! It's the softest of flannels covered with an collection of calico hearts! I could not believe my luck to find such a perfect match! So as not to mess with the feel of it I tied the layers together rather than hand quilting. I'm sure the time constraints during the holiday season had something to do with my choice as well, but either way, it left the quilt nice and flexible for tucking in dolly.

Now considering my interest in dolls and their quilts, you can imagine my excitement when Karen, from Humble Needle, suggested we conduct a little doll quilt swap of our own! It was just the two of us which made it ever so easy to organize and fun to plan for. Plus, having perused her Esty shop many times over, I knew I was in for a special treat! After much consideration, and oodles of flipping through the aforementioned book, I decided to attempt the Broken Dishes pattern. (More on that later!)

Most of the prints came from my stash but I couldn't resist adding in a few new ones as well. The true color inspiration came from the material I selected for the backing. . . . it's from the Moda Legacy collection. I absolutely loved it at first site!

The whole thing was done before I knew it! I attached a label. . . . .

. . . . . wrapped it up, and off it went! Easy as pie. . . . almost. . . .
There was one glitch I encountered. . . . . it turns out in the construction of a Broken Dish pattern these areas where eight seams merge into one come up far more often than I care to remember. It did provide, however, great insight as to the naming of the pattern for I often found myself with the barely controllable urge to hurl my teacup at the wall! How in the world can all that fabric match up to one smooth point?

While I was able to press it down flat to a certain degree, a lump still remained in each of these areas. I can't help but think I must have done something wrong or that there's some trick I'm missing out on. Pressing the seams open rather than to the side has been my only alternate inspiration but I'll take any suggestions I can get. Armed which a bit more knowledge I hope to battle it out again in the future!

It wasn't long before my package from Humble Needle arrived in the mailbox. I was the envy of everyone that day! Not only a package, but such a fun one to boot! The entire envelope was decorated with the sweetest sewing images and even proclaimed to the whole world the exciting contents within.

Although I was almost immediately informed it was the perfect size for a Webkinz, I wasted not a single word letting my youngest know his four leaf clover luck had run its course. . . .this quilt was for ME!

It even said so on the back!

Now, one of my favorite things about Humble Needle's work is the wide variety of fabric prints she includes in each and every piece. You can definitely tell she has quite a stash and is not afraid to use it! The essence of patchwork to me is that creative gathering of bits and pieces, each with a different history and origin, pieced together in a totally unique way. I had a ball looking at every print included in my new quilt. A few I recognized, a couple I even have some snips of myself, but one in particular made my day! These two geese personified brought me back to the time when I still played with dolls as a child.

During the third grade, I would say dolls and reading were the backbone of my life. My shelves at home were filled with an amazing assortment of both but it was at the little library of Sunnyside Elementary School that my unattainable treasure resided. To this day if I close my eyes I can see exactly where it sat on the shelf, when it was checked it that is! My name must have been written on the check out card of Queer Dear Mrs. Goose at least twenty times that year alone. I was fascinated with the idea that Mrs. goose and her friends wore little outfits and hats and participated in all types of village adventures together.

Years later I found a quite pitiful copy of the book at a library sale. Although not the original pink binding I remember and literally held together with tape I scooped it up. The pictures inside, however, are as perfect as ever. This was a particular favorite of mine, the little bed always looked so cozy.

And I must have had a love of patchwork even then apparently considering the envy I had for this quilted sleeping bag! And look at that! How lovely that the starry sky extends right out to the border of the quilt! Thank you Karen for creating such a quilt of memories for me!
Now, back to that whole animal personification thing. . . . it's great fun and I love playing along with it for the most part. When it comes to Freddy however, I'm not doing very well. . . .
Meet Freddy. Do you see him there in amongst the bug eaten morning glories and the everlasting mint? No plastic dino here! It's the read deal and he seems to have moved into the garden around our sun room, aka his "condo." I was all for cracking out every can of tuna in the house as an open invitation to the neighborhood cats but for that darn youngest again. First the clover and now the snake. Even his best Webkinz bud, Chocolate Latte, has been tossed aside as his first priority is now the well being of his new friend. UGH! Must be my bad karma for not sharing the quilt with him!

It will, therefore, be only with the security of my thickest wellies and heavy duty garden gloves that I may brave the perimeter of Freddy's condo in acquisition of the basil, mint, and chives that grow there. Either that or have my knight in shining armor hubby do it for me, which is actually quite a win win situation considering the fine dishes he creates for our table with his pickings. (see above photo!) Hmmm, maybe I should develop a phobia of water and then he could become king of the laundry mountain too! Making replicas of those doll quilts in the book might not be such an extravagant dream after all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.....or so I hope!!!

I knew it had been awhile since I last posted a blog entry but the reality of the situation truly hit home when I began uploading my photos. Some serious image editing was required, and even with that, prepare yourself. . . this might take awhile!

Apparently, I've not only been playing hooky here at Piccalilli Days, but also in the garden. I was shocked to discover how much greenery has popped up out there. . . .the dandelions, chickweed, and ragweed are thriving! But so too are my chives! Our original clipping came from a dear neighbor the very first year we moved in. In the ten years since we have split our mound many times over creating numerous plantings in our yard and the yards any neighbors or friends willing to adopt some. It does have a bit of a garlic odor when you clip it but tastes delicious on cottage cheese or in omelets.

Another staple in our summer menu is basil. Every year I buy a small pack like this at Market Basket, our local grocery store, for a mere $1.79! It's got six small plants in it but by the end of the summer they're practically bushes, which is a good thing considering how much of it we eat.

This I found a bit unusual. . . . clusters of morning glory seedlings come up every year in all the spots where seeds from last season's blooms spilled to the ground. This is the first time ever, however, that I've seen them munched on like this. The one patch by our patio seems to be quite popular with an entire fleet of some strange sparkle beetle bug. I suppose I should do something about it although I'm a bit hesitant. . . . to tell the truth I think the little bugs are quite beautiful and what I would imagine one would get if you crossed a ladybug with a fairy.

Lawns must be a man thing. . . . to me, if I can mow it down and it looks green at a distance it's all good. My husband, however, is always in the process of fertilizing, dethatching, seeding and reseeding and of course stressing over a wee bit of clover here and there. He was in one such debate with himself recently concerning what course of action to take against it when our youngest hatched a "Save the Clover" campaign. His logic being not ecologically friendly but rather that you might find a four leaf clover in there! And guess what. . . .

. . . .he did! What luck! So with dad's help they pressed it flat, let it dry, and framed it. It now resides in the boys' room where I imagine little clover fairies make their pilgrimages and give praise for their salvation from any number of lawn treatment plans out there.

Speaking of luck. . . . have you seen one of these yet? It is a Lucky Penny Book made by my lovely friend Maggie. She sells them in her Sweet Scarlett shop on Etsy and in a real storefront shop in England too. This one came as a surprise treat in my mailbox along with a glorious bag of Typhoo tea, of which I am partaking a cup right now!
Yes, that is a real antique, out of circulation Queen Victoria penny you see there! On the flip side, however, I had my doubts about the whole "Natalie Jo the Genius" claim.

But then I read the quote contained within which made me think that just perhaps. . . . oh never mind, my eldest has informed me I have no less than sixteen spelling errors and two serious grammar faux pas thus far and I'm not even half way through (I told you it might take awhile!)

The mail has actually been very good to me recently. Let me introduce you to our new arrival, Miss Prim. She is the creation of another sweet friend Bekah, who recently began sharing her talents through her Etsy shop, Full of Bliss. I was lucky enough to catch her on opening day and snap up this little beauty. Ever so cute, and with a green gingham base to boot I didn't imagine it could get better until I saw. . . .

. . . . her delightful parasol! As lovely as it may seem here, please be sure to visit her blog for some truly amazing photos. Mine just do not give it justice!

I must confess I am not the only Full of Bliss fan around here. Miss Lily Red caught wind of some Easter Bonnets by Bekah's hand last month and has been green with envy ever since. Imagine her surprise to find a wee package for her tucked in snugly along with Miss Prim. Dare she hope? Could it be? Quick as a wink Lucy put scissor to twine and all was revealed!

It was. . . . the hat of her dreams!!! And a perfect fit at that.

So filled with emotion, the poor dear was rendered speechless. Thank goodness for the written word!

Etsy is great not only for the handmade items but also for vintage treasures and wonderful supplies. Mattie Cakes was actually the first seller I ever purchased from. I love her seam binding and all the little added touches she makes to the packaging. I needed to replenish my supply of lavender for a special order I had and decided to treat myself to a few extra selections at the same time.

I've really no excuse as to my extended absence here at Piccalilli Days. Maybe it was all those TV finales I just had to watch . . . . Lost, Survivor, Hell's Kitchen, American Idol . . . some of them a whopping three hour long broadcast! And if it wasn't that it was our pile of Vicar of Dibly DVD's recently arrived from Netflix. Yes from John Adams to Geraldine my husband and I are addicted. It's not been all play and no work, however, as I've had some custum orders to fill as well. Here are all the little bits and pieces that went into making. . . .

. . . . a special May Belle for a secret sweet someone.

She was a delight to have around but her visit was short as she had places to go and people to meet. A few of the girls popped in to wish her luck on her new adventure.

And so off to the post office we went. Yes I know, not the most exciting of pictures, but what's inside the white envelope is, for contained within is my half of a Doll Quilt Swap I participated in with Humble Needle. Once the swap is complete I'll share everything, but until then. . . .

. . . . my plate is clean. Well sort of. A recent purchase at the quilt shop filled the last of my tally card making me eligible for $25 worth of fabric for FREE!!! After careful consideration (another hour roaming the bolts!) I decided to be daring. I have always loved Kaffe Fassett's books and fabrics but have never actually worked with them. The prints are a bit bigger and bolder than I usually feel comfortable with but the colors were just too pretty. And so here they are, as they sit on my ironing board, wondering whatever is to become of them. . . . Oh Miss Maggie, I do hope you were right!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Day!

I awoke this morning to a somewhat gray sky but with a sunny disposition for it was May Day Morning! After reading all the wonderful garden suggestions that came in this week I could hardly wait another moment to head out to the north forty! More like forty feet that is, although it feels immense to me considering how jam packed it is becoming with all the greenery popping up everywhere. So the wellies were brought out for the season, geraniums were prepped for the porch stoop, and some early seeds gathered for planting. All was well with the world until I spied this. . . . .

Do you see it?!!! Right there. . . lying among the irises. . . a long slithery tail!!! In that split second of recognition my body went immediately into high alert. . . heart racing, lungs gasping, feet jumping. I'm sure I was a sight for all the neighbors. I found safe harbor on a nearby bench but after a few minutes of no ground movement I got a little curious and brave enough for a closer peek (after all I did have my wellies on!) And upon closer inspection. . . .

. . . .discovered the owner of the tail on the other side of the fence. An apatosaurus, compliments of dear hubby who had found great amusement in decorating our front garden with prehistoric remnants of last weekend's yards sale. They are hidden everywhere!

Found this raptor in waiting to pounce in a bunch of grape hyacinth. I fear our poor cottage garden has evolved into a Jurassic jungle.

My favorite surprise however was this wee sprout. It is the first of the morning glories for this year. Many more will soon follow from the seeds that dropped to the ground last fall and before you know it we will have a literal wall of morning glories bordering our patio. I also have them trailing up outside the kitchen window which makes for the loveliest sight when washing dishes. I can't wait for their return!

It seems great minds think alike as Lily Red exercised her green thumb a bit as well this morning! The real dirt under your finger nails gardening, however, had to wait for another day once Lily Rose arrived on the scene. News of the May Day excitement had spread and with her were some dear friends the May Belles, three tussie-mussie toting sweethearts.

Introductions were made, a flower was shared, and then it was time to get on with the main event...the Give Away!

Lest the entrants names be forgotten a list had been made throughout the week. The names had been numbered and so it was easy to make up little tags for the drawing. Lucy of course did all the cutting but it was the by the hand of my own sweet girl that the number 5 was selected.

In true May Day spirit the May Belles danced around the maypole until the official announcement came. . . and the winner is. . . .

. . . Susan Faye!
Hearty, happy congratulations to you!