Ah, Fall, my favorite season. (Aside from Spring.) We’ve jumped headlong into the whole autumn crafts thing. We still had some of the die-cut watercolor paper leaves from last year (available here), so we spread those suckers out on the dining room table and painted them up. Griff is still not really into painting/coloring, but he is fascinated by color blending and spent the entire time mixing blue and yellow to make green leaves.
To display the leaves, I took an idea from The Artful Parent’s Autumn Crafts ebook, which I bought last year (definitely worth the money IMO). I bought a huge roll of brown contractor/builder paper at the Home Despot for about $10 (this stuff is extremely useful for all sorts of projects) and cut out a tree shape with branches. I initially taped it onto the wall with some weak, cheapo woodgrain washi tape, but the tree was too heavy, so I stuck a bunch of masking tape onto the back of the trunk and branches and that helped a lot. Griff got to climb up on the stepladder and stick all the leaves onto the tree, which thrilled him.
We also tried a project with leaves made from coffee filters with glue-gunned-on veins (from here). The couple we did turned out very nicely, but Griff’s limited patience for painting was about gone, so I’ll probably end up finishing them myself.
We also made a pretty kickass scarecrow. Materials were an 8-foot plastic tomato stake, a thick 3′ dowel rod for the arms, some spare cheap yarn to tie everything together (plus duct tape to reinforce), a $6 bale of straw from Joanns, a thrifted shirt, an old pair of jeans, and some burlap for the head (face drawn on with a Sharpie). We added some old garden gloves and one of Sean’s old hats. Sean came home a little early from work as I was starting to put everything together, which worked out great because it was much easier as a 2-adult job. Of course, every time I look out the window or walk outside I do a double take because there’s this vaguely Sean-shaped figure standing out there and I know Sean is not supposed to be in the yard during the day.
I’ve done a bit more sewing for Griff (sadly it’s been too warm for him to wear any of it but the jammies).
I recently discovered a line of kids’ knit fabrics made by a European company (German, I think) called Lillestoff. This stuff is EXPENSIVE. Like, $25/meter expensive. It’s certified organic and very high quality, but even Spoonflower organic cotton interlock knit fabric is cheaper than that with a designer discount. On the other hand, the Lillestoff graphics are mind-bogglingly cute, and it’s very hard to find knit fabrics with great kids’ prints. I did a few weeks of stalking web sites for the best prices and finally found an Etsy seller in Canada who had the fabrics on sale by the half-meter at around $10.50. Knits come in 55-60″ widths, so even an approximately 20″ piece of fabric is still plenty useful. Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the shrinkage (and cotton knits shrink a ton), so I ended up with fabric that was a few inches shorter than it needed to be to make up the full length of a shirt for Griff.
I solved this problem in two ways: by colorblocking one shirt, and by adding ribbing to the bottom of the other. They both came out well (IMO).
Here’s the Viking shirt, with bottom ribbing. Seriously, I could not resist these Vikings.
For the fireman shirt, I colorblocked at the top with blue interlock from Joanns. The blue does not match in either case, but there was no way I was going to find a blue solid to exactly match the Lillestoff fabric, so I went with something that seemed to harmonize well.
Viking shirt with model. I asked him to please hold his arms down and be still for a second, hence the robotic pose here. Holding still does not come naturally to Griff.
And the fireman shirt. I love that one of the firemen is smoking a pipe. Would you see that on a kids’ fabric in the US? Heck no.
I tried out my double needle for the first time while hemming this shirt. As you can see, there are still some tension issues I need to work out for next time. I was also too darn lazy to wind a bobbin so the thread colors would match. The hem seems stretchy and strong, but we’ll see how it wears.
Since Griff has outgrown most of the pajamas I made him over the summer, I also churned out 4 pairs of knit jammie pants this week and embellished some inexpensive shirts to go with (reverse applique with scraps). I think I’m going to only use knit fabrics for his pajamas in the future, they seem so much more comfy for him than flannel or quilting cotton. The blue and white pinstripe ones were made as an experiment with some on-sale Target jersey pillowcases. Never again, the quality is really crappy compared to the yardage I bought (from Nature’s Fabrics, very recommended for prices, quality and fast service). I have 2 more pairs to make and then I’ll move on to more long-sleeved tees for the winter. (The pajama pants were made using this pattern, also recommended.)
It’s been cool enough lately to go for long hikes/walks again, so we went out to the Cole Mill section of Eno River State Park last weekend. Griff is very into climbing now, and he’s pretty amazingly surefooted. I’m really glad he hit this phase at 3.5 instead of as a young toddler who wanted to climb bookshelves and tables.
Many rocks were flung into the depths of the Eno. This is apparently fun for hours.
On our walk, we saw a tree with a hollow that looks just like a fairy door!
I am highly tempted to buy a little doorknob and go back to stick it on, but I’ll content myself with this instead.
We also saw some huge turtles sunning themselves on a log. This guy was easily the size of a serving platter. (This was as good a shot as I could get through the trees and with max zoom.)
I also love the octopus-tentacle-resembling roots of pine trees.
I entered my third Spoonflower fabric design contest this week (theme: constellations). On my first attempt, I placed in the top 87%. I moved up to the top 58% on my second. This time I managed to crack the Top 100: 95 out of 211! I am totally thrilled. The contests are really basically meaningless unless you make the top 10 (in which case your design can automatically be sold without your having to pay for printing a swatch. Sometimes the top 10 are offered as part of a fat quarter bundle as well.) But considering that I do this stuff on a whim and slap things together at random with watercolor pencils, a scanner and GIMP instead of using Photoshop, Illustrator and actual talent, I’m pretty darn happy. I have a yard of the constellation fabric on order and Griff will be getting a shirt made from it.
I’m still experimenting with various ways to use my watercolor pencils. One project that I thought turned out pretty well was this collage-type thing. I drew, colored and water-washed some tree trunks and branches, cut them out and glued them to some of Griff’s plain art paper (I regret not gluing them to watercolor paper on which I’d already done some ki kind of blue wash for a sky, but I’ll try that next). Then I randomly watercolor-penciled 2 sheets of watercolor paper in various fall shades, gave them a water wash, and cut out various foliage-y shapes and individual leaves and glued those on.
In progress photo:
Some finished trees:
I scanned in the trees, along with some extra leaves and a couple squirrels I created the same way, manipulated the images in GIMP, and made a fall fabric image. I ordered it on cotton sateen and I’m planning to make a tablecloth, pillows, or some similar home dec item with it once it comes in.
And finally, this is THE END.