Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Mom: Jess, can you make a chuppah?

Me: Yeah, I could probably figure it out.

Mom: Well, will you make one for my wedding?

That is how my mother told me she was getting married.  By roping me in for a huge project!

The wedding party and guests during the ceremony.
If there ever was a labor of love, this chuppah is surely it.  Never having made one before, I didn't know what I was getting into when I agreed to make it, but I like a challenge...  I began by scouring the internet for photos and pretty quickly settled on a lattice design. Though the wedding ending up taking place in a synagogue, it was originally supposed to be outdoors, so I thought the spaces in the lattice would be nice to allow the sun to come through.

AGF Pure Elements in Appletini, Light Grey, and Fresh Water
I wanted fabric that draped nicely, so we chose Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Elements. We debated using some of the other elements, but decided that simple solids would be best.  I did the math for this thing so many times, it's unbelievable. In the end, I used 12 yards of fabric for this project!

Maneuvering 4 yard strips in my tiny apartment was the most challenging part!
To create the lattice, I cut 4 yard by 4 inch strips of each fabric (thanks to the DCMQG for your cutting advice!), then folded them in half, sewed the raw edge shut, then turned them right side out and ironed them flat, like you would do for a bag handle. I originally tried to use my rolled hem foot to turn the edges under and keep the strips wide, but it was not working. I was practically in tears before I decided to jump ship and revise my approach.

To finish it off, I wove all the strips into the lattice, working one side at a time and securing each strip with two lines of stitching to only the outside edge (the gray strips at the top of both of the above photos). The entire inside is loose. This was quite a feat because there was no space where I could fully stretch the strips out, so I was having to construct it rolled and folded which affected the measurements and evenness a little bit, but not so much that you would notice. Thankfully everything still turned out pretty straight and lined up.

Mr. T, Mom, and I hung the chuppah about 1.5 hours before the wedding, right after Mom and I had finished our nail appointment! We were rushing around like crazy trying to get it up so that we could get back to the B&B and change. It ended up being the perfect size (somewhere between 80-86 inches square, I'd say) and looked beautiful draped over the frame.

The fam, post vows.
The next step is to turn it into a quilt so Mom and Eddie can actually use their chuppah, rather than just shoving all my hard work into a closet for no one to see!  Hopefully I'll have that done by their 5th wedding anniversary...

Me and Mr. T, looking fancy.

This finish counts towards FAL 2013 Q4!

All above photos located in the synagogue with the completed chuppah are courtesy of Holli Lauren Photography.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Date Night Envelope Clutch

Last week, for the first night of Hanukkah, Mr. T and I went on a fancy date. Even though we don't have kids, etc., date night is a relatively rare occasion for us. We're both home bodies at heart, so we often prefer a delicious home-cooked meal (Mr. T is an amazing cook - I really lucked out!) and a movie on Netflix. But since it was Hanukkah and the day before Thanksgiving, we went all out!  He treated me to a fancy and fantastic meal (if you're local or visiting DC, try Cedar. So good! And the service was outstanding) and I took him to the theater to see one of my favorite shows, A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum (the lead we so good. We were practically rolling on the floor laughing at some scenes. If you've never seen this show, go! Or find the movie with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Also amazing).

My clutch supply is in dire straits - it really only consists of this one I made over the summer - so I whipped out my Noodlehead pattern again and got to work. This time I made the smaller size and left out the credit card slots. I used Robert Kauffman Yarn Dyed Essex in Black for the exterior and Sarah Watson's Menagerie from her Indian Summer collection for AGF for the lining. 

I added a pop of red with the zipper and pocket lining. I also embellished the flap with some simple embroidery using a silver metallic thread.

As with the first clutch, this one came together really easily.  Mr. T's company holiday party is this weekend at a shnazzy restaurant, so this clutch will be making another appearance, as will the dress I wore to my mother's wedding!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

do. Good Stitches catch up

I just realized I have THREE months worth of do. Good Stitches blocks to share. I thought I had already shared September since I finished it several weeks ago, but apparently not. So here we go.


Amanda mixed it up for us this month. She wanted to make a rainbow stripe quilt, so each member chose a color and made a strip using any block/design of her choice. I had been wanting to make butterfly blocks for awhile and I thought it added a fun level of interested to do a bit of an ombre effect with the shades.  This should be a really interesting quilt!


Lots of yellow in my sewing corner! Amy requested yellow and whilte/off white half square triangles. This will be a very bright and cheery quilt for sure!


Lastly, Deb asked for 12.5 unfinished economy blocks. I thought these were quite fun. I enjoyed picking a festive print for the center square. I thought I was being so clever with the first one cutting those cute cups on the bias only to be foiled in the end! I overthought it and didn't realize that, because there are 3 layers, the center block ends up sitting straight. Oh well, as Mr. T. said, I can just say that "the cups runneth over!"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Playing with paint chips

A few weeks ago I read this post on Sew Crafty Jess' blog and immediately became obsessed with the paint chip elephant frame she made for her daughter's nursery.  Mr. T's sister is due in a few weeks, so I latched onto the idea of making one for her, but then I had trouble finding the elephant punch (I could only find it online) and the baby isn't actually going to have a nursery - s/he will just be sleeping in his/her parents' room - so I figured artwork didn't necessarily make sense since the baby wouldn't have his/her own space.

Lest my desire to make one of these not be foiled, I instead picked out a flower punch, a nice wood frame, glue dots, and some (read: an unnecessarily large stack) of paint chips from Lowes, and set to work making an adult version as a birthday gift for Mom. 

Hanging proudly in the bathroom.

Mom's birthday (and it was a big one) was a week before her wedding and she happened to be in DC for someone else's wedding, so we were able to celebrate together. I picked her and Eddie up from the airport we went straight to her first gift - a chocolate walking tour of Georgetown. Perfect for my chocolate loving mother!

Mom and Eddie getting ready to try some fudge.
That evening, we nursed our sugar highs with a delicious dinner. My brother even drove four hours just for the meal as an extra surprise for her! All in all it was a great weekend and I think Mom had a fantastic birthday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Copper Corgi

Obviously I had to stop in some fiber stores while in Savannah. We went by a cute fabric store, fabrika, but nothing really struck my fancy. At The Frayed Knot, however, it was a different story. I have a much harder time resisting yarn than I do fabric - clearly, I'm more of a knitter than a quilter at heart!

I only had a few minutes because the fam was waiting, so I focused on some beautiful yarn that is locally dyed in Savannah by The Copper Corgi. Since reading this post, I've decided that's my new strategy to ensure I'm getting something unique that would be much more difficult to find at home.

The colors aren't coming through well - it looks navy and royal blue above, but really it's black and dark teal (I'd say a mix between to Kona Celestial and Teal).
I've been wanting to make something for Mom, so I let her choose the skein. She picked this fingering weight 100% superwash merino in colorway Clifftop and requested a short cowl. I told her I'd try to have it ready for her by her next big birthday...which is in 10 years.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Savannah, in (mostly) pictures

This past weekend, Mr. T and I traveled (read: drove 9 hours!) down to Savannah for my mother's wedding. Even though I grew up about 4 hours from Savannah, I'd never been, but I'd always heard great things so I was excited for this destination wedding. The city did not disappoint. It was a beautiful occasion and, because the wedding was the first day (on Halloween), we had the rest of the weekend to relax and enjoy vacation.

We took pedicabs from the B&B where we stayed (so nice, highly recommended!) to the synagogue. Left is my brother and SIL, right is me and Mr. T. It was a fun and unique way to travel. Mom's husband's grand kids (Mom's step-grand kids...) even attached signs to the back of their pedicab saying "Off to get married" and "Just tied the knot" for afterwards.

Mom, Eddie, Rabbi Haas
The happy couple right after they tied the knot. I'll go into detail about it later - hopefully once I get better photos from the photographer - but part of my wedding gift to Mom and Eddie was making the chuppah, the canopy under which they're standing (previously mentioned here and here). In Jewish weddings, the bride and groom are married under the chuppah to symbolize the coming together under one roof. This was definitely a labor of love and caused me quite a bit of anxiety, but I'm really happy with how it turned out and, more importantly, so was Mom.

Interestingly, the synagogue where they got married is the third oldest in the country. I was surprised any Jews even lived in Savannah, let alone one of the oldest congregations!

After the wedding, it was all fun and games. We went on a walking tour (with an 87% blind guide who was great!), toured an old house, and rode scooters! I also went on a nice, long run in preparation for a half marathon in a few weeks, so that was a great way to get to see the majority of the historic district.

Wall of candy and salt water taffy-making
Drain spout and cool church. On Halloween they had a petting zoo in front of the church, but we didn't get to stop. Apparently this spire was also in Forrest Gump. There were/are A LOT of movies filmed in Savannah - our blind tour guide kept rattling them off.

 Drinking on the street. Coffee for me, beer for Mr. T. There are no open container laws, so obviously we had to take advantage!

This was my favorite activity! I was nervous at first, but Mr. T and my brother convinced me that we should rent scooters, so we did. AND IT WAS AWESOME! Let's just say, I'm a natural.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Finish-A-Long 2013: Quarter 4

she can quilt
Phew, getting this last one in just under the wire! Now it's time to hunker down and get serious about the last quarter. I have a major sewing/quilting project planned for each month, plus some non-sewing ones, and of course others that I haven't even thought of yet but I'm sure will crop up to steal some of my valuable sewing/quilting/knitting time. This list is a bit ambitious, but it's the end of the year, so go big or go home, right?

1) Mom's Chuppah

This is my main project for October. My mother is getting married on Halloween and she and her husband expect to be standing under my creation. I have more to do than I would like... [Don't worry Mom, I'll finish!]

2) Secret Quilt

Can't say much about this one or show the fabric, but here's the pattern (from the Sept/Oct 2013 issue of Quilty). I don't think the recipient reads my blog, but just in case. Must be finished by the end of November.

3) Snowballs in Helsinki

This is my December project. I think I'm going to be de-friended if I don't get it done soon.

4) Index Blocks

No progress on these all year. Maybe this is the quarter...

5) Wiksten tanks

Still to make. Now that it's colder, I'm less motivated to make a tank top, but we'll see what happens. I also want to get this pattern and make a top, so maybe that will be the replacement...

Finished knitting in February, finally blocked last quarter. Now only the buttons left. Maybe I'll actually finish it in time to wear this winter.

7) Slade
That was poor (or brilliant) positioning of the balls of yarn. Kind of looks like boobs!
I have the back and fronts complete. Just have to finish up the last bit of the sleeves, block, seam, add the collar/button band, potentially block again, and add the buttons. Not sure if that sounds like a lot or a little...

8) Herringbone Cowl

So unmotivated to finish this. I love the yarn - it's so soft! - and I really want to wear it this winter, but, as neat as the final product is, this pattern is very slow going and takes concentration and a little bit of muscle, so I get tired with it easily. But I've told myself that I have to finish the Slade and this cowl before casting on a new knitting project.

9) Lucky Stars Blocks

I've completed the first four blocks: practice through March. Nine more to go. I would like to have a finished quilt for myself by the end of the year.

10) Autumn Sampler!

I've never cross stitched before and have no idea how to do it, but this pattern was just too cute to pass up so I'm learning a new craft! (Better photo here).

The below either don't count because they're not started, or I know they won't be done by the end of the quarter, but I'm still listing for motivational purposes:

11) Spectrum socks - I really want to make these. I've also purchased a few more skeins of sock yarn that I'm itching to use, so I really need to finish my current knitting projects so I can cast these on again.
12) Riley Blake challenge - I'm getting my fabric Saturday. I've got an idea, but not really sure if it will work. Technically have until February 17 to do this, but I'd like to give it as a holiday gift, so we'll see.
13) Georgetown shawl - Found the perfect pattern for this delicious skein and anxious to cast on.

That's probably enough. Not sure how I'm going to finish even half of this, but I have a lot of PTO days stored up so I may be taking a little crafting staycation this holiday season!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New hobby, hopefully

Just a quick pop in to tell you I bought this last night before the sale ended. I love Amanda's blog and I've been oogling these cross stitch designs for a year now, but I don't actually know how to cross stitch so I've resisted. Until last night. When I caved. And now rather than doing what I'm supposed to be doing, I'm googling cross stitch tutorials and comparing brands and prices of floss and dreaming about sitting on my couch exploring a new craft. Is it 5 o'clock yet??

Monday, October 7, 2013

Finish-A-Long 2013: Quarter 3 Recap

she can quilt
So, this quarter went pretty well. Definitely more knitting-focused than sewing, but oh well. Actually, it's really just that most of the sewing projects I did over the past three months were small, last minute projects.

1) Outdoor Pillows

COMPLETE! (And exchanged for delicious cake pops, which are also finished).

2) Index Blocks

Untouched. Carried over, yet again.

3) Wiksten tanks

Untouched. Moved to next quarter. I also think I might get this pattern to make a few sleeved tops.

4) Staple Dress

COMPLETE! And already well worn.

5) Snowballs in Helsinki

Still untouched. Really feeling guilty about this one.

5) Drawstring pouches


6) Boyfriend Sweater
Finally blocked. Just need to add the buttons. Proud I accomplished at least one step! Still didn't take a new photo, though...

7) Knit Tie

8) Gemini 

The below either don't count because they're not started, or I know they won't be done by the end of the quarter, but I'm still listing for motivational purposes:

9) Spectrum socks - Untouched. 
10) Herringbone Cowl - Untouched
11) Lucky Stars Blocks - I made two more. Now I'm up to March. Only 7 months behind!
12) Chuppah for my mother's wedding - Fabric is purchased and cut! Now just to sew it together. I have three more weeks to the wedding...

5.5 out of 9 (not counting the extra 4) complete. That's not too shabby! Especially considering my poor performance in Q1 and Q2. I'm feeling good about the end of the year!