Monday, November 16, 2009

Out with the old, in with the new!

Last week I was reminiscing about old things; old designs, old orders. This week is all about NEW things. I had a wonderfully domesticated weekend (I'm not sure that came out right), I mean to say I got to try some new domestic-type tasks that I haven't done before. They came out well for the most part, and I'm really having a blast with some of me new found abilities.
1) Wood Working:
Of course I'm still in carpentry school, and while I felt like we weren't progressing at all for's finally starting to come together. Thursday night we made a picnic table. It was the most beautiful picnic table ever. (Not really, but in the same sense that a marathoner drinks water at the end of the race and thinks it's the best water they've ever had) I wish I had brought a camera...but I guess you've seen one picnic table you've seen them just close your eyes and imagine. It was fun being expected to jump right in and just use tools I've never used before. For this project it was a circular saw, electric drill, electric screw driver and of course the requisite hand tools. (I have my own bag of tools bought lovingly by my own saw, my own hammer, my own toolbelt...) It was fun being able to jump into a project and accomplish it.
2) Quilting:
I have never made a real quilt before. I've done smaller quilt like projects, but this weekend I designed and made a baby quilt. When it's finished (and given to it's recipient) I'll post the pictures. I'm so excited with how it came out! I like the colors, the design, and I like the fact that I could do it! It opens up the world of new projects I can do!
3) Bread Making:
We've had the grain and grain mill for a little less then a year, and while I use it a lot I've not gotten into a regular pattern of bread making. And when I do, I typically make the dough in the breadmaker first and then shape it and bake it. (I hate the shape of the bread-maker loaf with the big hole in the bottom from the kneading-paddle) Yesterday I decided I was going to try my hand (ha ha) at hand kneading the dough. So the bread started with fresh milled hard white wheat, I mixed, kneaded, rose, kneaded, rose, shaped, rose and baked. Jon and I stayed up watching last week's Community on the lap top and waited to try one of the first loaves. From the outset I didn't know what to expect...but after the first rise I felt more confident. It was HUGE! I didn't expect that much of a rise with a coarse-grind whole wheat bread. We ate some right out of the oven last night with butter dripping off...then again this morning sliced and toasted. Good tast, texture, etc. It was a success...and really not nearly as hard or tricky as I thought it would be. I downloaded the NY Times well known No-Knead recipe thinking I might need it in case I couldn't knead well...and while I still may try it...I can knead. It's actually very easy. Besides a little elbow grease, it helps to have an excited little girl. Laurel helped me with my projects all weekend.
The projects started because she wanted to make an apple pie, which we did on Saturday morning. We've been having so much fun making our homemade pies with our homemade crust (typically a mixture of soft white wheat and oat groat flours) that we made a sweet potato pie yesterday. This recipe included apple sauce (of which we really don't eat or keep on hand) so I actually stopped and made some with some apples we had on hand. I'm not joking...this was an all out Little House on the Prairie kind of weekend. We stopped just short of churning our own butter. I'm loving it. But next time I'll remember to take some pictures...I've been neglecting the camera lately. I forgot to take pictures of the purse I made for my sister's birthday, the pies, the bread, the table, etc. It seems I can't only remember so many things at one time before my brain fries. Ah well...2 loaves of bread, 2 pies and one quilt is good enough for me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

I just realized that this past weekend was the first anniversary of my business. It was the weekend of my first craft fair, and last week would have been one year since my first ETSY sale. I wouldn't trade any of it, despite the long exhausting hours. And this is why...below is a sketch done on the night I started designing my product ideas. This was something I sketched that I felt I couldn't make without a lot of fact I think I even blogged about it back then. Today I can honestly say I could make that without a problem, and I could probably do it in less than an hour with fabric I have on hand. Pretty awesome considering I thought I'd have to take hours and hours of classes to be able to do something like that, and in the end it just took trial and error.

In honor of a year of designs I thought I'd post some of my favorites. The design at the top of the blog was my first original design, and very first finished Maggie Blue product. It sold at my very first show. I'm proud to say that all designs were my own, I didn't use patterns for anything. Of course that made for a lot of mistakes, but also a lot of fun.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Mermaid Costume

This was a fun one to make. My daughter wanted to be a mermaid for Halloween, and thankfully, being only 4 years old she didn't have a huge opinion on how it needed to look. I hate the standard 2-piece Disney mermaid fare...and the idea of a 4 year old wearing a seashell bikini just seems tacky to me. So I knew I wanted something that covered, and secondly I wanted her to be able to walk around easily. I decided early on to make a simple pillowcase style top, and then have the dress come to a point where I would put the fins coming down to the ground. I had to play around with it a little to get the fins to look like fins. In the end I got close...I think it could potentially use some more tweaking, but I actually liked the simple home-made quality of it. Plus I love the Amy Butler green polka dot fabric, I'm making my way through the last yard or so I have since it's been discontinued. I didn't want to buy more fabric, since I have plenty. So I opted for some subtle flannels I had lying about. I didn't have enough of any one color to make the front and the back the I call it "reversible." If she wants to be blue, she can...if she feels like being green, just flip it around!
The pillowcase top is pretty basic, once it was made I tried it on her and eyeballed where I wanted the point to be...then I cut it. From there I measured the sides of dress to the point to figure out the dimensions of the fins, and measured how long the fins needed to be so that they weren't dragging on the floor. (In reality I laid it out on the floor on top of a roll of paper and traced what I wanted the fin to look like)
The other thing I wanted to make sure of was that the fin retained a fin-like shape. In order to do this I put a piece of fleece in between the layers of cotton. This way once the fins were sewn the fleece would pop out and keep the shape, this seemed to work well. Plus the detailing on the fin really popped because of the added dimension from the fleece.
I did have to go back and tack the front and back fins together a little bit, without it the dress opened up too much and didn't look like fins anymore.

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