Thursday, September 23, 2010

Made Just for You

I've worked on a few projects within the past year that seemed to have a common thread:  Initials. 

It started last Christmas when I was trying to figure out unique gift ideas (on a budget) for the girls I worked with.  The one thing they had in common is they are all moms, so I put together a gift I hoped might help them relax.  My idea of relaxation is a long, hot bubble bath surrounded by music and candles.  And chocolate, of course, makes everything better.  So, I thought candles and homemade fudge with a note encouraging them to take time for themselves would be good. 

But, I can't do just plain candles.  And through that organic design process I've spoken of before, I produced these personalized candles.  Each candle was wrapped with a wide velvet ribbon and tacked on with pins.  I then used letter buttons from the scrapbooking dept. for the monogram.  Each candle had a wrought iron holder, and the gifts were completed with the tin of fudge.  The girls really appreciated the thought, and even though the gifts were similar, ok, basically the same thing, it was still made for each of them individually.

Then, this past spring, when it started warming up (yes, here in Texas, we start warming up in March), it was time to switch to the cooler bedding.  I had recently inherited a few vintage quilts and really wanted to use them. 
**On a side note, quilts are fabulous!  They are beautiful and meant to be used!  If you have one, use it!** 
The only problem was, I didn't have a bedding "set" with these quilts.  I had these 3 Euro shams in storage that I wasn't using, but not any regular pillow shams.  But I did have some scrap muslin and a few other various fabrics.  I've seen these decorative pillows that take shapes or figures, and print that silhouette in a different pattern on the pillow.  So I took that idea, but decided to do our initials to give us His & Hers pillows.  I found a font I liked, printed the letters as big as I needed to fit on the sham, cut them out, traced the shape onto the fabric, then cut out the letters in the fabric.  After I had sewed the muslin shams together, I applied the letters to each sham with stitch witchery, then reinforced it with small stitches on the edges of each letter.  And, voila! 

What I especially like about this "set" is the fact that none of it matches, but it still works, just like the different fabrics on the quilt.  And I think these shams would work with any of the other quilts I have.

I have to give a little shout-out to the owl hanging above our bed.  That was hand embroidered by my great-grandmother.  It hung above my Grannie's bed forever, and was passed down to me and it is my treasure.  He sits in his tree, watching over me, and says, "The wise old owl lived in an oak.  The more he saw, the less he spoke.  The less he spoke, the more he heard.  Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?"  Love it.

My latest letter arranging came this summer when a very good friend of mine asked me to do a special project for her son's nursery.  She needed letters spelling his name that would fit the nursery's sports theme.  She sent me pictures of some artwork in the nursery already to work from, and the ideas just starting flowing.  I wanted them to be special, and because I know this family loves sports, I thought if I could make something that could be in his room for years to come, that would be the best value for them.  So my final design came from the idea of a framed jersey.  Instead of having individual letters to hang, this would be a framed unit: a black frame with a blue pinstripe painted background and the letters attached.  My color scheme came from the existing artwork--blues, creams, reds.  I painted the letters a slight rust red and outlined them in black and cream to give them definition against the background.  Then I applied sports symbols--basketballs, footballs, baseballs--randomly on the letters. 


The result was exactly how I envisioned, and turned out, I think, super cute.  And I really enjoyed making them.  I'd love to do more :)

Until next time....

P.S.  I also had the pleasure of "monogramming" a very special little boy's bedroom wall.  And although this technique isn't something new or unique, it turned out really cute, and I loved doing it for him.

My nephew's name in rope on bedroom wall :)
Sorry for the grainy cell phone pic!!
Until next time...for real ;)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Baby's Blankie

I get a lot of my creativeness from my mom, even though she would deny it. But I do. And this creation of mine I have to completely give her credit for: I stole it. With permission of course. As one of my professors once told us (as inspired by Picasso), "Good designers copy. Great designers steal."

I can remember when my youngest cousin was born, about 8 years ago, my mom made her a set of towels. I didn't remember the details, but they were really cute. Then my second cousin came along, and another set of towels. But I think it wasn't until my nephew was born that I noticed how great these things really were. She was making these hooded towels that were perfect for wrapping up a baby, toddler, or young child in. They could be easily personalized, and I could picture them being that blanket they drag around the house, just like Linus.

So came my chance to make a set. One of my best friends from college was having a baby boy, and because I wasn't able to make it to the shower, I wanted to do something unique for her. Mom suggested I make her a set of towels--a hooded towel and 2 burp cloths. I remembered that she and her husband were really into sports, so I went with it. And I got lucky since they had decorated the nursery in a sports theme. :) I had more fun picking out the fabrics and coordinating towels. Sewing them was a different story.

The first hooded towel I made was horrible. My thread was all tangled and the ribbon trim looked really tragic. Even though it functioned like a hooded towel, it was not presentable. So, I needed a do-over. Take 2 was much better. Below is the finished product. (My monkey model is a cutie, no?)



Not long after, another family member was having a baby boy, and since she wasn't registered anywhere, I thought these would make the perfect neutral gift. I mean, all babies need towels, right? She also didn't have a true "theme" she was going with, so I kept the colors and patterns boy neutral. Then packaged them up for shipping.

I know my mom can't wait to make a set for our kids, and I can't either, but in the mean time, I love sharing these unique gifts with others.
Until next time...

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