Thursday, December 13, 2012

A secret santa surprise!

One day in November, I excitedly opened a package from my "Secret Santa", and found the most beautiful tote bag inside!  I hardly had time to photograph it, before stuffing it full of sewing supplies for a Thanksgiving weekend away.  (I always bring too much, because you never know what you might have time to work on, right? And, in my opinion, the bigger the bag -- and more possible projects -- the better!)

So, thank you, Kara, for making the most perfect bag for me.  Your fabric selections are fabulous -- how did you read my mind?!  But what I really love about it are the things that make it uniquely Kara, things I never would have thought of doing.  Like quilting with a zig-zag stitch, combining the fabrics in a way I never would have (but really love), and adding the aqua embroidery stitches for extra pop and texture.

My kids say the patchwork looks like a city map, which is how I will always think of it now.  And that makes me love it even more.

Oh, and I almost forgot about this awesome little bonus package that was hidden inside:  more Lotta Jansdotter fabrics (I don't think I can ever have too much!) and this fabulous pair of buttons.  Thanks so much, Kara, for this gift, and also for organizing the Secret Santa Swap.  It was so much fun.

My swap partner, Ros, specifically asked for a Christmas-themed gift.  Since she lives in Australia (where the weather is warm this time of year), I wanted to make it Christmas-y, but also bright and cheery -- no snowmen or sleighs for her!  I stitched up this house ornament (tutorial by RetroMama), because I think it's adorable... and hoped Ros would, too.

Then I resurrected my pattern for this Christmas tree applique -- one that I used way-back-when to make these greeting cards.  [You can read more how I make the cards here.]  This time I sewed the tree onto a piece of linen, which I hemmed and turned into a tea towel, complete with a strip of cheery red twill tape sewn into the corner for hanging.

I included a couple of my applique cards to round out the package.

I'm now frantically trying to get through my list of un-secret holiday gifts for friends and family... because, as usual, I have waited until two weeks before Christmas to start... or even come up with ideas.  But that's just kind of the way I roll.  I wish I could be more organized, but I'm just, well, not.

What last minute gifts are you making?

Monday, December 10, 2012

A winner!

I so enjoyed reading all of your comments on my giveaway post, as part of Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day.  I loved having so many new visitors to my itty bitty blog, too.  Hope you'll come back and visit again!

Congratulations to elflyn (comment #109), chosen by the true random number generator on  Elflyn said, "Oh so cute, I love Bella.  Thanks for the opportunity."  You're very welcome!

I'll be shipping your zipper pouch off to you asap.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Giveaway day!

It's Giveaway Day once again at Sew, Mama, Sew!, and... once again, I have something to giveaway!  Details on how to enter are at the bottom of the post.  Also, be sure to check out all the other giveaways being offered.  Click the image below to link back to the official Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway Day posts.

On this overcast, slightly dreary, late fall day, it seemed appropriate to offer up this cheery little rainy day pouch, designed and made by yours truly.  It's a hot pink mini wale corduroy zipper pouch with a cloud and raindrops applique.  The lining and raindrops are from one of my favorite fabric collections, Lotta Jansdotter's Bella.

To enter to win, simply comment on this post anytime before Friday, December 7 at 5 pm EST.  You can write whatever you'd like in your comment.  If you need some inspiration, I'd love to hear about what you're making this holiday season, whether it's handcrafted gifts or decorations, or home baked goodies.  I'll use to chose the winner of this handy dandy (and cute!) little pouch.

Please be sure I have a way to contact you if you're a winner!  If your email is not connected to your blogger profile, please include it in your comment.

This giveaway is now closed; the winner is announced here.  Thanks so much to all who participated!

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Trunk Show... almost ready!

Making owls.

And zipper pouches.  And so many other things that I don't quite have time to photograph right now!

And figuring out packaging.  I love these craft paper round labels from Avery.  The bags and cool orange burlap twine are from Nashville Wraps.

I'll be a vendor tomorrow at the DIY Trunk Show.  This is by far the biggest fair I've done, and I have no idea if I have enough wares or not, but I suppose I'll find out soon enough.  If you're in the Chicago area, please come by and check it out.  There is a really amazing list of vendors which you can peruse here.   And I'd absolutely love it if you stopped by to say hello to me at Booth 91!

One more quick thing before I get back to work.  Here's a sneak peak at the package I sent off for the Secret Santa swap, hosted by Me and Elna.  More about that next week.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Teeny, tiny patchwork

Are you on Threadbias, yet?  I am, and, although I'm not yet using it to it's full potential yet, I did enjoy participating in this Threadbias Pincushion Swap.  The only project requirement was that it use some or all of the colors orange, blue and green.  This is the pincushion I made.

I pieced these little teeny, tiny pieces to make the letters.  Look at the size of this patchwork!  I was really scared when I started (I thought my sewing machine might suck the pieces inside and destroy them!), but it worked out fine.  Paper piecing would have probably been easier, but I was in a rush and didn't want to spend the time drawing up a paper pattern.

Here are the pieced letters, and my notes.  I used linen --oh lovely linen-- for the background.

Here's the finished block, all neat and trimmed.  {Don't look too closely at the "W"!}

I quilted it, sewed on the green print for the back, stuffed it full of fiber fill, then wrapped it up like a burrito to send off to my swap partner.

And look at the awesome ORANGE cathedral window pincushion I received in return.  It's already on my sewing table, getting heavy use.  I kinda like this swap thing!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A few things.

It's already the 5th day of Sew Mama Sew's Handmade Holiday series.  If you're unfamiliar with this fantastic collection of DIY sewing (and other) tutorials, please.  Go.  Check.  It.  Out.  It's full of really great gifty type ideas for everyone on your list.  And it runs throughout the month of November.  It's one of my favorite things about November.  Seriously.

Have you heard about the Makerie's Sewing retreat?  It sounds really amazing!  Great teachers, two whole days of sewing and learning, plus hiking, yoga, and yummy healthy food.  I would be there in a heartbeat if I could.

This is not exactly new, but I love this "scrappy X and +" quilt block tutorial from Amy at Badskirt.  And (more new-ish)  these house quilt blocks by Retro Mama and Noodlehead.

Oh, and because I can't post without a picture (plus I just want to show you!), here's that zipper pouch I was working on when I was supposed to be doing other stuff.  Finished.  I call it the "Rainy-Day-Fund Pouch."  Clever, huh?  I'll be making a bunch more for the holiday shows I have coming up.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Handmade Halloween

I can't remember ever wearing a store-bought costume as a kid, although I probably did at some point.  And, except for my son's first birthday when I couldn't resist buying him an adorable fuzzy giraffe costume, my kid's have always had (at least partially) handmade costumes, too.  Not that there's anything wrong with a store bought costume.  I've seen some really great commercial costumes, including some today at my kids' school.  It's just that it's really fun to make a costume, whether it involves finding just the right pieces at a thrift store, using spray paint and a hot glue gun, or stitching one up from scratch.  (I'm also cheap, and don't like paying full price!)

This year my son asked to be one of the Gogo Crazy Bones he collects and plays with constantly.  He wanted to be Targy, the one pictured above.  It's pretty specific and obscure -- most people had to ask what he was -- but people loved the costume anyway.  I used plastic tubing and wire to shape the head piece and then attached it to a bicycle helmet with strapping tape.  I covered it in red pleather with white pleather stripes.  I mostly sewed the red pleather (I used some red duct tape, too), but I ended up attaching the white stripes with clear tape.  And the white pleather circle is glued to the red sweatshirt with fabric glue.  The red pleather pants, though, are completely sewn.  Hint:  laying tissue paper over the shiny side of the pleather makes it so much easier to sew!  The mask it pleather over a cardboard form -- this part was very last minute and not as successful as the rest of the costume.  Apparently, it was kind of uncomfortable and made it hard for him to see, so he ended up not wearing it most of the time.

My daughter's costume was easier,  She's wanted to be a werewolf since last Halloween, so I've had time to think about it too.  I used faux fur and stitched up a pair of straight tube arm warmers with thumb holes and leg warmers with an extra flap to rest over her shoes.  I roughly followed the pattern I used last year to sew her bat hat, to make this year's hat/hood.  The tail and neck piece are my own design.  The shirt and jeans were thrifted.

Here's a not-so-scary photo of my sweet werewolf, and the three of us together, out trick-or-treating.  Did I mention that I whipped up a quick Amelia Earhart costume for myself last Halloween?  No?  Well, here it is, recycled and reused again this year.  Handmade felt hat with ear flaps, sunglasses-made-aviator-goggles with a bit 'o felt, and a white scarf made by sewing together strips of a chopped up t-shirt.  The jacket, khaki pants, and tall boots are from my wardrobe.

By the way, I end up spending much of the time before Halloween frantically finishing these costumes that I always start a bit later than I wished.  We're lucky if we get a few decorations up and the pumpkins carved... but at least we've got the costumes!

Hope you had a great Halloween!  Did you make any costumes this year?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What I'm doing instead.

I'm supposed to be finishing up sewing instructions for a tote bag for Stitch magazine.  Here's a sneak peak at the project.

...And finishing my daughter's werewolf costume for Saturday's Halloween parade.
...And starting my son's Gogo Crazy Bones costume.  He wants to be Targy.  That's this one:

I still haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to make it, but I'm pretty sure it will involve pleather.  Yes, pleather.  Because it's shiny... and, well, I just like to say, "pleather."

...Finishing a pin cushion for this swap.
...Making gifts for this secret santa exchange.
...Stitching a placemat for this sew along.

I'm behind on all of this because I had my first ever allergic reaction to food this week.  Some really yummy Thai food I ate Sunday evening, in fact.  I ended up in the ER on Monday, and have been in a fog of Benedryl and Prednisone ever since while I wait for whatever it was that my body didn't like to work it's way out of my system.

What I'm doing instead of all these "supposed to's", is sewing a little zipper pouch of hot pink corduroy with a cute little appliqued cloud and raindrops.  Because I felt inspired and it's making me happy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A bag... for me!

I really should be working on my inventory for the craft shows I have coming up in November (particularly this one), but, instead, I keep making stuff for me.  Can I just tell you how rare that is?!  Invariably I tell people about what I make and then they say something like, "Oh, did you make your purse?", or "...your scarf," or "...your hat."  And I have to look down at the ground and mumble, "Um.  No.  I bought that."  Because the truth is I could have made it... but I didn't.

So, why this sudden urge to make for me?  Well, it's really quite simple:  peer pressure!  Next week I'm attending Sewing Summit, a modern sewing and blogging conference in Salt Lake City.  In addition to all the learning and sewing, I'll be hanging out with extremely talented quilters and stitchers, many of whom will be carrying and wearing their own fabulous handmade creations.  And, apparently, that's the motivation I needed.  (The alternate title for this post, by the way, is "More Sewing Summit sewing.")

So, I finally stitched up this Madeleine bag from Imagine Gnats, with a Jessica Jones home decor weight cotton on the exterior, and Joel Dewberry quilting weight cotton on the interior.  I've had these two fabrics stashed together for a while now... planning to make something with them.  The fabric (with the text) for the folded pocket is, I think, a Japanese import fabric.  This was such a fun bag to make.  Plus, I made an interior zippered pocket and inserted a magnetic snap, both for the first time, and with no tears or swearing.  The only modifications I made were to enlarge the pattern for the bag by about twenty percent and to lengthen the strap.  This made it just the right size for me.

I also needed a business card holder to carry in my new bag.  I followed this tutorial from the Crafty Cupboard.

Finally, I just have to show off my new knit fabric that arrived in the mail yesterday from Girl Charlie Fabrics.  I'll be using the one on the left in my Maxi Skirt workshop at Sewing Summit.  It'll be my first time using a serger -- I hope it turns out well!  The fabrics were all so fabulous that I couldn't order just one.  I'm thinking the stripes will become a t-shirt or two, and I may use the peacock blue solid for screenprinted jersey scarves (to sell, this time -- NOT for me.)

I have to admit that all this sewing for myself does make me feel a little guilty.  But I know it will also feel good the next time someone asks me if I made my bag and I can proudly say, "Yes.  As a matter of fact, I did!"

Go do/make something for yourself today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Stitch, Winter 2012

I'm so excited to once again have a sewing project and pattern featured in Stitch magazine.

In this Winter 2012 issue of Stitch (a quarterly special publication of Interweave Press), I'm delighted to share with you a pattern for one of my wool and felt owl softies.  The pattern is for the larger owl with the appliqued cotton print wings.  I've been making these owls for a couple of years now to sell in my Etsy shop and at craft fairs.  You won't find them in the shop right at the moment (per my contract with the magazine), but now you can make one yourself!

Mr. Owl is featured on the Table of Contents page, and here he is (on the right) in his full page spread!

He (and I!) also got a lovely little write up on the Cloth Paper Scissors blog -- the post even shares the instructions for how to stitch up this little guy.  So, although I recommend buying the magazine for all the other fabulous patterns and projects, you don't need to just to make an owl.

When I made the first owl (my son and I designed one together for my daughter's second or third birthday -- I can't even remember which now!), I never would have believed that he'd be published in a hip sewing magazine.  Whoo knew?!

Monday, September 24, 2012

robot love!

Many of the students at my kids school have my screenprinted t-shirts, and I love seeing them on various kids at school events or on the playground after school.  It's incredibly gratifying to realize that someone picked out a shirt with my design to wear... because they like it.  But this really made my day!  When my son's friend Maggie was given the assignment of drawing her self portrait in Art class, she drew herself in her robot shirt!  And look at the detail with which she drew it.  I just can't stop smiling.  I... love... this!  Thanks, Maggie.

I'm also loving this book that I found by accident at my local library yesterday.  Love the freeform, beautifully hand stitched and upcycled projects.  I seriously want to make them all.  When I'm done drooling over the library copy, I think I'm gonna need to buy my own.  My sincere apologies to those who check out the book after me!

Oh, and I can't seem to stop sewing things for Sewing Summit.  More finished projects to be posted soon!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tutorial: Stripey Skirt from a Tee

Up until about three months ago, one of the last things I thought I'd be posting is a tutorial for a girl's skirt.  Before that, I really had no one to sew a skirt for... except myself, of course.  Then, surprisingly, my previously anti-princess, anti-skirt, and anti-dress daughter decided she's okay with certain types of skirts and dresses.  Still, no ruffles, bows, or anything too frilly -- and I'm just fine with that.  It started when she said she might want a jean skirt like the one I was wearing.  Then, when my mother-in-law took her shopping for a few new fall outfits, she not only picked out two dresses, but came home wearing one.  I took this as an opportunity, and quickly stitched up a (not-too-girly) skirt from an old t-shirt of mine that I'd been saving.  And she likes it!  She's still anti-princess, though.  Thank goodness, or I think all this change would be too much for me!

So, without further ado, here are the easy peasy instructions for sewing your own girl's skirt from a tee.

Adult size t-shirt  (I used a women's size large)
3/4" wide non-roll elastic
Matching thread

1.  Decide on the length you want the skirt to be -- from waist to hem -- and add about 1-1/2".

2.  Lay your t-shirt out flat, straightening the side seams and aligning the bottom hem.  The bottom hem will be the hem of your skirt, and you'll keep the side seams intact, too.  Mark the length from the bottom hem, and cut straight across.  I used a quilting ruler, rotary cutter and a mat, but scissors would work fine, too.

3.  You'll end up with a tube, like this.

4.  Turn the tube of fabric inside out, and, at the top (cut edge), fold 1/2" to the wrong side, and pin.  The stripes on my shirt just happened to be 1/2", so I just used them as a guide.  Stitch about 1/4" from the folded edge, stretching the knit fabric ever so slightly as you go.

5.  Turn the same edge another 1" to the wrong side, and pin.  This time stitch just to the left of your first line of stitching (see photo above).  Start near the center of the back of the skirt, stopping about 1-1/2" before the point where you started, in order to leave an opening for the elastic.

6.  Cut a length of elastic 1" longer than the desired waist size (or several inches longer, if you'd like to wait to try it on the recipient before you commit, as I did).  Using a safety pin, feed the elastic through the casing.  Making sure the elastic is not twisted, overlap the ends 1/2" and stitch closed.  (Or -- if you're not quite sure of the waist size -- try the skirt on it's recipient, pin the elastic, stitch closed, and then trim.)

7.  Sew the opening in the casing closed, being careful not to catch the elastic in the stitching.  Then distribute the fabric evenly around the waistband.

8.  If desired, stitch the elastic in place along each side seam to secure.

9.  And that's it! You've upcycled an old t-shirt into a fun new skirt!

I was happy to have such an eager model for my skirt!  Doesn't she look like she's having fun?  

If you decide to make a skirt from this tutorial, I'd love to hear about it -- and even see photos!

Happy stitching!

Monday, September 17, 2012

sewing summit sewing

I expect to do a lot of sewing at Sewing Summit, but I hadn't really considered that I'd need/want to be sewing for (and before) the conference.  Well, it turns out that I do.  I made this little zipper pouch for a swap at Sewing Summit.

And, lest you be fooled, this is not just any old zipper pouch.  It is, in fact, my very first, actual, sewn (and finished) quilted project!

Yes, I cut little teeny tiny strips of fabric and improvised a little bitty wonky log cabin.  Then I made my very first, actual, quilted sandwich!  I know I'm a sewing nerd, but, man, was this exciting.  And it didn't hurt... not even a little bit.  I'm not quite sure what I've been afraid of for so long.  I can see now how this quilting thing could become addicting.

Here's the finished product.  I even added one of my labels to the lining.  I sure hope the recipient likes it!!  It was so much fun to make, I'm hoping I have time to make a couple few more before Sewing Summit both to keep and to give away.

I stitched up this little sewing kit from the Zakka Style book, too.  I've been pouring over this book lately.  I only have a copy from the library right now, but there are so many great projects in here, the book will, without a doubt, be going on my Christmas wish list.

I used prints from Lotta Jansdotter's first fabric collection, Echo.  I think they go nicely with the natural linen. (Of course, I have a tendency to think every print goes well with linen.)

Next, I have plans to sew a new bag for toting all my things around the conference.  I'm thinking of making the Madeleine bag, tutorial courtesy of Rachael at Imagine Gnats.  Well, I'd better get started and go pick out my fabrics!