Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Daddy Shirt Quilt for Baby Oliver

I make upcycled rag quilts. That means taking gently used clothing, unused fabric from the thrift store and donations from crafty friends to stock my supply of fabric, waiting until I get enough of one style or look to make a quilt. My sister sends me boxes, her friends have sent me boxes, my friend Jill of Dolls For Friends sends me fabric, and sometimes I'll come home to boxes of fabric sitting on our porch. The pieces stare up at me like a puppy at the pound. "I'll be good. I'll be cute. Keep me."

Try as I might to keep my quilting supplies neat as a pin, from time to time it's necessary to pull everything out and get it all organized, again. It's then that I find some piece of fabric shoved where it ought not be shoved, I find colors stacked up together that should not be in the same room together, let alone the same quilt, and I usually end up with a few pieces to donate to the thrift store because I decide I'm just never going to grow to like them. 

Last summer was one of those days. And what did I find? A bag of ever-so-perfectly rolled up dress shirts from our friend Jeff. If you can imagine a dress shirt rolled up into a compact shape about the size of a collapsed umbrella, you have the picture. Jeff goes through shirts like no one I know. First, he dresses really well. Second, he's a teacher who dresses really well. Third, he does volunteer work where he dresses really well. Fourth, he likes to eat messy Vietnamese sandwiches that tend to spill on these nice shirts, adding to the pen marks that come with correcting school work all day. These shirts are a rag quilt maker's dream come true. My only complaint is that even with all those Vietnamese sandwiches, Jeff stays slim. If he put on a few pounds, I would have more fabric to work with from his dress shirts.  :o)

The discovery of this stash of shirts coincided with the news that Jeff and Myra were to have a baby! I didn't need to be on my second cup of coffee to put it all together - those shirts were going into a Daddy Shirt Rag Quilt for Baby!

What do you need to make a Daddy Shirt Rag Quilt? 

Cotton shirts from Daddy.
Lots of them.

You need a template, rotary cutter and some scissors.

Avoid the pen marks.
And the sandwich spills.

You may need to press the shirts first.
Oh, the "iron"y.

Cut off the buttons, the many many buttons.
Save them for a purpose yet unknown.

Now normally I would trudge headfirst into sewing the quilt, not finishing until I'm hunched over in pain, the sink full of dirty dishes, the clothes hamper overflowing, the dog feeling like an abandoned shelter puppy. But this time I did it right. I cut out the squares of fabric, threw away the scraps, vacuumed up the mess and put it all away for a rainy day. Or rather a rainy vacation day. 

One of the prettiest settings I've ever sewed in was this little extra nook at a house in Sea Ranch, CA. The weather was perfect for sewing, drippy and wet - wet and drippy. This was the start of the incredible drought-busting Atmospheric Rivers of 2017 that dumped so much water on the state we don't know what to do with it. That weekend away with some friends, I sewed up two quilts and finished crocheting a baby blanket. Storms are great for getting stuff done.

What a view.

What a table! Perfect for doing a layout for the Oliver Quilt.

And I got it done.
The colors were so nautical, so fresh.

Very Ralph Lauren,
Very Old Navy.
Very Jeff.

And we had ourselves a Daddy Shirt Quilt for Baby Oliver!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What is a Baby Drizzle?

Imagine my surprise when last summer, upon hearing the news that my friend Myra was to have a baby in early spring of 2017, I heard the words "I want to throw you a baby shower" come across my lips. But there was no denying it, I said that string of words, loud enough for Myra to hear, and there is no taking back a promise like that. I was down to plan a shower - but I had lots of time, babies take forever to come.

Since every shower these days has an overriding theme that is carefully chosen by spending large amounts of time stealing ideas on Pinterest, by December I was getting into panic mode. No venue, no date, no theme, no shower. So I decided to go for broke and pull out all the stops, this was to be a shower to top all showers. One that would be Pinterested to kingdom come. The oohs and aahs would be heard three counties away. I picked a theme and ran with it. Ran and ran and ran.

Just joshin' ya.
This wasn't the theme.

From the very beginning, Myra was on board with something very practical and doable from her party-phobic friend. In fact, being the World's Most Practical Mom already, she was all for having a Baby Drizzle!

What's a Baby Drizzle, you ask? 

First and foremost, it's easy on the hostess, who in this case has mini-meltdowns just having people over for dinner.

Second, it's easy on the invited guests, because they don't have to wrap up their gifts in fancy bows and baubles. In fact, super practical gifts are encouraged like diapers and wipes and Target baby items.

Third, it's easy on the mom because she doesn't have to spend any energy oohing and aahing so loud it can be heard three counties away. She just gets stuff for the baby. And stuff for the baby is what a shower was invented for, I'm pretty sure.

So with Myra behind the whole idea, we had the basic outline for a Drizzle. But you can't just sit around and watch a pregnant person not open boxes of diapers, we had to have some food. And stuff to drink. And chocolate. And that's when I set into true panic mode. I contacted some friends of Myra and begged them to help me, and they must have read the desperation in my typing, because they graciously offered to help me plan a gathering that would have unwrapped diaper boxes, food of some sort, stuff to drink and chocolate.

We batted some ideas around, mostly me suggesting they do everything, before we landed on the Plan of all Plans. Alicia would set up a yummy and cozy Hot Drink Bar. Portia would do a Dessert Bar. And I would organize a Soup Bar. Who needs Pinterest with a plan like that? We all seemed to have some leftover items from other parties, and we were set to go.

Then Portia had to ruin everything and send us a gorgeous Pinterest-like shot of an "inspiration dessert bar." What??? "We were going low-down on the chow-down, weren't we? Well for heavens' sake, now I have to get tablecloths?"

As in most things I freak out about, everything turned out lovely. I do admit to doing some last minute Pinteresting on How To Make A Soup Bar Look Better In 12 Short Hours, but I didn't really have to. Our neighbor Melene offered to help me set up, and she has ideas, whereas all I have is nervous energy. I only had to get the gear set up for about 15 people to walk into the Drizzle with Crock Pots filled to the brim with simmering soups and stews, and have enough extension cords to keep that soup hot, thus preventing any food poisoning incidents, and have lots of containers to send the extra soup home for Myra and her growing family.

Got ladles?
I did, from the thrift store.

Got linens and things?
I did, from the great-grandmother-to-be.

Got signage?
I grabbed this black poster board from the garage at the last minute.
Portia brought the chalk.
I bet you thought that was a real chalkboard and were about to post it on Pinterest.

Got twinkle lights?
Found these the morning of the Drizzle, while looking for the extension cords.
Melene borrowed the greenery from the venue.

Got soup?
We sure did, but next time...

...hide those ugly cords Jessica.

You can't have a Soup Bar without fixins, that's the rule.

Portia and Alicia came thru big time on their end of the room.
Portia's chalkboard is the real deal.

Some people have talent.
The rest of us make soup.

A very blurry picture of diapers and wipes and
little outfits we drizzled on Myra. 

It's a good thing we had the Drizzle when we did. It landed on one of the few days in January that didn't have a torrential downpour of gushing water from the never-ending Atmospheric Rivers of 2017. And now Myra's little guy is going to come four weeks earlier than planned. But she's set with enough diapers and wipes to handle the first few months of drizzles, leaks and drips.