May 19, 2015

Antique Quilt Top - Now a Finished Quilt!

Its' time to play ketchup on my blog posting.  I've finished a few quilts that I've been so excited to show you - it's just taken me forever to get outside (aka: get my husband to hold them up for me) to take a picture ;)

This is one of my favorite antique quilt tops.  But it started out a little less charming...

Check out that pink!  This one required a little vision.  I don't always spend so much time on these quilt tops.  Sometimes repairs need to be made, but I have not often disassembled the whole top like I did this one.  But I really was not feeling the pink. The blocks were gorgeous though, and for such a reasonable price, I went ahead and snatched this one up!

My first step was seam ripping each block out of that pink sashing.  Nice, mindless work to do in front of the TV.  It left me with this beautiful stack of blocks you see above.  I then spent quite some time reinforcing all the loose seams, and fixing tears, and occasionally patching some holes.  With so many different fabrics and tiny blocks in each quilt square, this process took a fair amount of time.  The blocks were all hand sewn by some lovely person back in the day, so it wasn't surprising that so much repair needed to be done.

I love the look of natural colored muslin in an antique quilt top.  It really lets the colors of the blocks take center stage.  So, I picked up some muslin, and simply added a 4" sashing back in between all the blocks.  Above you can see part way through the process.

Then, I had to wait a while to quilt it, because I love to use my mom's long arm quilting machine, but I have to wait until I go visit her.  I've had a lot of fun (and agonizing) picking patterns that I want to try to free hand quilt onto my finished quilt tops.  

I did a big loopy flower design on each block, and a twirly, leafy vine on the sashing.

I stay up late each night I visit working on quilts, and it is really fun to see it all come together so nicely!  Even for a beginner like me, the long arm machine makes the quilt look so well finished!  I love it!

I went for a bold red backing this time.  I've been wanting a red back on a quilt for a while, and this one seemed perfect for it.

I used an on offwhite fabric with red seed shapes for the binding.  You can see my process for binding a quilt by hand if you click here.

I was really worried about the red backing bleeding in the wash though, so I bought this product online called Synthrapol.  It worked great to keep my white fabric white.  I also threw 3 color catcher sheets in the washing machine (found those at Walmart).  Can't be too careful, right?? ;)

And now I have one of my favorite finished quilts so far!  The vintage fabrics and colors are so sweet.  The white is fresh and clean.  The quilting is tight, and after the wash it is nice and crinkly.  I absolutely love it!

I know I've said it before, but quilting is addicting.  So stay tuned, because I have more :)

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March 18, 2015

Little Mermaid - Under the Sea Birthday Party

When my little sweetie turned 6, she asked if she could have a Little Mermaid birthday party with a few of her friends at our house.  I have had a great time planning parties for my daughters.  
We've had a Rapunzel party, a Winter themed party, an Art Party and a Pirate party which have all been really fun!
I'm all about doing parties at home, making decorations, and finding simple and inexpensive crafts and activities.  I've never had to spend a lot of money to fill a couple of hours with plenty of fun things.  So - here you can see some of the ways we made our back yard an Under the Sea wonderland!

I love taking pictures of the partygoers, so as with many of the other parties I've thrown I try to make some sort of background.  First, I cut a blue plastic tablecloth into scalloped strips and taped those onto a lighter blue plastic tablecloth.  (The dollar store was pretty much the only place I had to shop for this party!).  The bubbles are white card stock circles sewn together, and the green seaweed is twisted crepe paper.
My favorite are all the fish, starfish and seahorses.  The girls made pretty watercolor patterns on cardstock - covered the whole page in pretty designs, and when they were dry I cut out all sorts of fish shapes from those pages.  It was great to have the girls involved in making decorations!

Another decoration they helped with were these cute jellyfish.  We glued colorful circles onto paper bowls, and then hung streamers, ribbon and curling ribbon from the inside.

Some white balloons on twine were another twist on bubbles, and added a fun birthday feel.

The invitations were similar to the fish decorations.
I had the girls paint half sheets of cardstock in pretty watercolors

I went over the watercolors with sparkle ModPodge, and cut out an oyster shape that I could fold in half to form a card...

Then, I printed the party information onto pretty paper and pasted it on the inside.  A few oceany stickers on the outside, and these pretty invitations were ready to send!

We started off the party with some arts and crafts (of course).  I like doing this, because it gives friends a chance to be working on something while everyone is filtering in.
I got little treasure chest boxes from the craft store, and had watercolors and stickers out for decorating.  The watercolors worked great on the wood, and afterward we spread some sparkle modpodge over the top to seal in the colors and add some sparkle!

It was really fun to see their creativity!  Then, while they were waiting for things to dry, or waiting for other friends to finish painting, we painted their fingernails with "mermaid colors" - pink and teal.

After crafting, we played a few fun games.  One was blowing bubble snakes with these homemade bubble blowers.  A water bottle, an old sock and some duck tape are all you need to provide endless bubble entertainment!  A little dish soap water made these super sudsy, and easy for even my 2 year old to use.  I found the tutorial here at Housing a Forest blog.  

We also did the limbo - my daughter's request - with little seaweed streamers hanging from the pole and some Little Mermaid music.  Pretty cute.
Another request is always "pin the something" game.  We did pin the starfish on the mermaid - which my girls helped me paint onto a poster board.  

One of my favorite games was a treasure hunt, complete with treasure map!

I thought it would be fun for the kids to treasure hunt for their party favors.  We got buckets and a couple of goodies for each person from the dollar store.  I stuck on a tag that said "Next time you go to the sea, take this bucket and think of me! Thanks for coming!"

Then, I hid the treasure under a towel with an X marks the spot.

I made a treasure map (which took quite a bit of time actually... but it was fun).  The map had the first clue, and everyone got their own copy.

The first clue directed them to the hose, where they found the second clue.  Each person got a copy of each clue to tape onto their map.  We had to make the girls promise they would wait for everyone :)  That was a little lesson in patience, but it worked just fine.
I taped the clues onto wax paper so the tape would come off easily and be ready to put on their map.

On and on they went, finding clues, and taping them to their maps, until they finally found their treasure!  It was great also to have them take turns sounding out the words of the clues (their little Kindergarten brains were working pretty hard for this treasure!) ;)

They searched in trees, in bushes, under chairs, in pots - thank heaven we could have this party outside, it worked so well!
And here are the cuties with their treasures!

And then of course there was cake and snacks!  There are sooo many great ideas for a sea party - but here are the few I went with. 

I used those colored chocolate melty candies to pipe a mermaid tail shape onto wax paper.  A few hours in the freezer and they were hard and perfect for diving into the cupcakes.

Add a little blue frosting, and these mermaid tail cupcakes turned out adorable.

Some blue Jellyfish Jello with a swedish fish inside...

Pretzel Driftwood...
I added some old wood and twine to the table to add to the beach look.  The little lifesavers tied to the twine looked like little shells, and my daughter loved them.

Seawater punch was made with: 
equal parts blue Hawaiian punch and sprite 
plus frozen pineapple juice concentrate (to taste)
and I added a few scoops of vanilla ice cream to the top for sea foam.  
It was yummy!

Goldfish crackers are kindof a must at a sea party.

A simple setup - perfect for Kindergarteners to enjoy!

The party was a ton of fun, and this was just the right amount planned for the two hours all the friends were here.  We even had a tub of play sand and sand toys ready if we had extra time, but we never even got to those.  

During the party, I made sure to take pictures of the birthday girl with her friends.
First I had them wrap her up in seaweed.  They LOVE doing this -each taking turns to wrap a couple of times - and it makes such a cute picture!

And of course they all wanted to be wrapped up after that.

I also took individual pictures of the seaweed wrapped birthday girl with each friend.  Then, I printed a group picture and the individual picture for each friend, to send along with their thank you note. 
I printed a little phrase onto half a page of cardstock that I folded in half to form a card.  Then my daughter draw a mermaid on the front cover, above the words - "It was good to sea you.  We had a splash!"  Didn't they turn out cute!?

I helped her figure out what to say on the inside, and she wrote out each and every card.  I love having my kids write their own thank you notes.  Not only is it great handwriting practice, but it really helps them learn to show gratitude for gifts and friends.  

Happy birthday to my sweet daughter - and good luck next time you throw your own birthday party! 
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