Monday, November 30, 2009

Family Christmas Stockings

This is a re-post from Don't Take the Repeats. It's the origin of the massive amounts of felt that I now own, and by far my favorite project to date. I just wish I had kept the pattern I made so that I could easily add another one for Little Butterbean next year. Oh well.

Over the past year or so, I have developed a love of handmade things. Esty is a website that should be banned from my computer. I've spent entirely too much time and money there.

Those who know me in real life know that I am not creative outside of music or cooking. It's just not in me.

Or so we thought.

now present to you, the family Christmas stockings, made by moi,
because I was too damn cheap to purchase personalized stockings. Well,
that, and the ones I found that I liked wouldn't allow the 11 letters
in my son's name.

I do believe I am officially crafty.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Felt Tree Garland

3011020_3011021_FeltHolidayGarlands_alt_F308This adorable garland has been tempting me for a couple of years in the Land of Nod catalog. However, being the cheap cheapo that I am, I refused to drop $30 on some felt tree garland.

Thus began a valuable lesson in crafting. Sometimes, it's worth the money to just buy the darn thing.

I had a ton of felt left over from my Christmas stocking project last year. I'm not so good on the estimating, and since I was making them from my own imagination, I bought "a little extra" just to be sure. I could now wallpaper our family room with felt, but that's beside the point.

I figured the felt wasn't really a cost, because if I didn't use it for this, I was just wasting it anyway. However, I probably spent $15 on sequins and other decorating doodles for the trees. Then there was the expense of the ribbon and glue.

Not to mention, the expense of the time involved. It was time consuming. Just ask Lovely, my stepdaughter. She spent about an hour gluing the trees onto the sequin strands.

So, meh. Felt tree garland. It's cute, but I would just buy it from Land of Nod.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Hand Shirt


From here, Kevin claimed to not see any turkeys. He may have been right, but he wasn't wearing his glasses as usual.


From here, you can almost see the very first French Knots I ever successfully completed.


And from here, you can see that it is indeed a very minimalistic turkey made from Little Bird's hand, and there was another one made from Mama's hand.

It was my first foray into using embroidery thread to accent an applique. I have decided that I need a hoop if I'm going to try it again. I might also need someone who doesn't refuse to wear his glasses to help me gauge whether or not there is actually a turkey on the shirt.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Zipper Pouches

This is the first year that Little Bird has had teachers. He goes to Mothers Morning Out one day a week at our church, and he has four teachers. Halloween was my first excuse to try something handmade for them.

I found some very cute fabric on sale at Hancock's one morning - just so happened to be on my "Morning Out." I bought a couple of yards of each because I didn't know how much I would need. Let's just say that Bird's teachers from now until he's in middle school will likely be getting the same zippered pouches for Halloween. Ahem.

My friend JC told me about these pouches and gave me the link to the instructions.  My first two attempts were quite disastrous. What I have found about sewing though, is that if I don't give up - if I plow through and finish something, that I will usually figure out what I've done wrong and how to do it right the next time.

Since I didn't take a picture of any of the pouches, I cannot offer any proof that in fact, I did figure it out and whip out four of those puppies in about 90 minutes. But I did. I just had to get the knack.

What I learned in this project is that I can cut out a straight line to save my life. I have a cutting board. I have a self healing mat and a rotary tool. I have the right tools I think, but I always end up with a random rhombus. Lovely.

Another lesson for another day, I suppose. But you would think that I could cut out a straight friggin' line.

We put some Halloween candy and a gift card to the brand spanking new Trader Joe's in each bag and gave them to his teachers the week of Halloween. Again, I may be setting the bar too high to live up to in the future, but that's alright. I'll just keep doing what I can when I can.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Teddy Bear Costume

IMGP1159A few months ago, Little Bird started saying the word "Bear." It was so cute with the w at the end of the word, instead of an r. Right then, I decided that he should be a "beaw" for Halloween. Just so I could hear him say it over and over.

Sometime in August, I bought a Butterick's pattern for 99 cents on sale at Joann's. I hadn't used one of their patterns before, and while the zipper instructions rocked, there were some other things seriously lacking. As in, it never told me to sew the inside legs seams. I mean, I figured out to do it, but I wasted quite a bit of time worrying about when to do it.

Really though, it's the best looking zipper I've ever done. I think I finally feel like I know how to do one now.

The costume had four components: the body, the hood, the mittens, and the spats. I wanted to add a round belly in a contrasting color, but I ran out of time, and I also didn't want to mess with my fabulous zipper.

The mittens and the spats were easy enough. I left off the elastic strap that was supposed to hold the spats to the bottom of the shoes. It just seemed like overkill. The spats stayed on just fine without them. I never tried to get the mittens on, because it was so hot here for Halloween. Of course, the year I decide to dress my poor child in a fake fur suit, it's 80 freaking degrees on IMGP1186Halloween.

 The body was pretty standard, and other than them leaving out the inseam instructions, I didn't have any trouble with it. Well, until I got to the neck. I really need a good lesson in finishing a neck. Especially when it comes to bias tape. I cannot figure out bias tape to save my life.

The hood was the biggest disappointment. He looked like a cross between a very cuddly teddy bear and a fuzzy cone head. I don't know what I did wrong, but I'm sure it wasn't supposed to turn out so, well, pointy. I lined the hood in some material that would have been better suited for a really soft baby blanket, but I wanted it to feel good on his little baby head. Aside from almost causing him to have a heat stroke, I think it did feel good. I was surprised at how willingly he wore it, honestly.

I guess this is now a tradition. The homemade Halloween costume. Let's just hope my children have simple tastes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Costumes, the Pirate Family

Daddybird_halloween08 Last September, I decided that I should make Halloween costumes for the family. Little Bird and his daddy would be pirates, and I was to be the pirate maiden. It was the biggest undertaking of my short career as a sewist.

I cut the taffeta for my dress wrong the first time and had to buy more. The whole affair probably cost me more to make from scratch than it would have to buy it, but it was a very satisfying venture.

I also made the pattern for Kevin's vest from an old dress shirt of his. That was a first for me, designing something without a purchased pattern.

The biggest mistake I made was setting the bar WAY too high for future Halloweens. Kevin was such a good sport last year, that I didn't expect him to be eager to join in again this year, but he was. Unfortunately, I'm just not up to taking on the whole family challenge again. I'm planning on making Little Bird a little bear, and that will be that.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Birthday Mail Sack

IMGP0631 It's intimidating to sew for a seamstress. But seeing as how she has inspired me quite a lot, and seeing as how she is one of my favorite people in the world, I gave it a shot.

For her birthday, modeled by my lovely stepdaughter, a mail sack. It's a pattern from Pink Chalk Fabrics. I swear, there probably isn't a post on this blog that doesn't link to Kathy's shop. I love it.

The base fabric is by Alexander Henry and is called Noguchi. I made myself one of these bags and used this fabric as well. The thing is, I didn't notice HOW cream the cream in Noguchi was. I put my whole bag together with mismatching creams and whites, and it bugs the crap out of me now.

I literally spent months trying to find the perfect fabrics to go with Noguchi for this purse. I don't think I ever did. I finally chickened out and went with the solid black for the yoke and strap. Kathy kindly sent me a big swatch of another fabric that was black and cream, but next to the Noguchi, the cream just ended up looking like white. So solid black.

The interior didn't quite go as planned either. I ordered some fabrics from my fabric co-op for the lining and the pockets. One of the fabrics didn't make, so I was out of luck there. The one that did make, again, was too white to use for the lining. I still really liked the fabric though, so I decided to use it in the pockets.

Then it hit me. Find a print that didn't have any white in it. I know, so simple. But I have a way of making things complicated. I found a cute green and black print at Joann's that could tie the whole project together. Unless you are Kevin, because he really hated my fabric choices on this one.

I don't know. They aren't the perfect fabrics, but I think it turned out better than the one I made for myself.


Better, if you ignore the fact that I cut the straps while completely drunk, apparently. The strap lining was a good 1/2 inch too short, making the edge of the bag uneven all the way around. But hey, there's a zipper that works, which always impresses me.

Besides, isn't it the thought that counts? I hope so, because way too much thought went into this simple purse. Well, way too much for just the purse. Not nearly too much for the recipient. Happy birthday, Girl. I'm sorry it was a week late.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Blast Off

IMGP0641 The tale of the rocket pants. These pants have been in the making for months. I found the fabric in the sale section of Pink Chalk Fabrics and bought a yard, not knowing what I would do with it.

When the fabric arrived, I immediately knew that it had to be pants - with the big rockets around the cuffs.

Instead of buying a pattern, I decided that I could make a pair of simple pants just by tracing some of Little Bird's current pants. I wanted them to be skater length with a simple elastic waist.

I put the pants together in no time. I was so excited to try them on the little guy. The length was great, but the waist was way too small. We sent them to our friend Carter, in hopes that he might be able to wear them, but the waist was still way too small. Maybe some teddy bear might wear them some day.

Not to be outdone, I got online and ordered some more fabric. This time, I also purchased a pattern. I'm obviously not ready to start creating my own projects. The fabric arrived, and I chickened out for awhile.

I really wanted these pants to work. I knew that I had to adjust the pattern some in order to get the border around the cuffs. That made me just nervous enough to stall for about a month. Or two.

Finally, last week, I tackled the rocket pants. They turned out a little longer than I anticipated, but overall I'm pleased with them. The best part is that Little Bird loves them. We learned this little song at our library's Rhyme Time that goes like this:

Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We're going to the moon.
Zoom, zoom, zoom,
We'll get there very soon.
Blast off!!!!!

As soon as he saw his new pants, he held his little hand up and started counting in his own Bird way, and threw his arms up in the air, crying, "Oooooooooff!" It was awesome.

Another thing I didn't really plan was what Bird would wear with his rocket pants. I found some really inexpensive blanks online though, and they arrived in about two days. This afternoon, I appliqued a rocket onto the shirt and completed his outfit.

I think he really likes it. I know I do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A rag quilt for Bird

IMGP0573 Last year, I made a rag quilt for each of my nieces' and nephews' birthdays. They were varying sizes, and were a great way for me to get a good handle on using my sewing machine. I think they liked them, and I enjoyed giving them something handmade. Of course, I neglected to take pictures of said quilts, because I'm flaky like that.

While I was in that rag quilt phase, I stockpiled flannels from Joann's when they would go on sale. Over a year, I've had flannels picked out to make Little Bird his very own rag quilt. I finally got around to making that quilt this summer.

This time, I cheated a little bit and ordered some pre-cut squares of quilt batting off of eBay. That saved me a lot of time and effort. I really hate cutting quilt batting. I pieced the quilt together at home and then took it with us on our trip to the mountains to get the ragging done.

This week, Bird snuggled up under his quilt for the first time for a little Elmo's World. I think he likes it, and I'm one proud mama.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's your favorite ice cream?

My poor neglected craft blog. My poor neglected sewing machine. There have been a few projects here and there, but mostly, I've just been collecting patterns and materials and building my to-do list. Currently it stands here:

  1. Three handbags. Mail sacks from Pink Chalk Fabrics, to be exact.

  2. A pair of pants for Little Bird. With a rocket ship border at the hem.

  3. A fleece blanket for Lovely.

  4. Two rag quilts for Lovely and Luke.

  5. Hand puppets for a new miracle baby's big sister.

  6. An apron.

  7. Pillowcases for Birds' little crib pillow.

  8. Three more t-shirts to applique for him.

  9. A birdy quilt, my first foray into real quilting.

  10. Some stuffed bunnies.

IMG_9042That's enough for now. I'm sure if I walked up to the sewing room, I would find a dozen more, but anymore on that list and my hobby will start feeling like a weight around my neck.

 I have finished a few things, but forgot to take pictures. I made a tu-tu for Bailey, one of my favorite little princesses, and I made a "Super Juni" shirt for our friend Junius across the street. I thought that one turned out pretty okay for being hand sketched. I am so not an artist.

One of my favorite applique projects was a whim. I almost waited too late to work on this little romper. Bird actually only got to wear it twice before it was just wedgie city. In honor of the ice cream party from Edy's that Cyndi won for our neighborhood, I whipped up this little cutie while Bird napped. Three scoops on a sugar cone, please!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Robot and a Puppy

I actually have been doing more than just appliques, but I have forgotten to take pictures. I've been making some drawstring bags, just the right size for shoes, as gifts. I like the simplicity of the project and the fabrics I can use. Plus, I just really like bags. All sorts of them.

Another thing on my plate other than appliques is a fabric co-op that I joined a few months ago. It is pretty overwhelming - I don't know exactly what is going on, but I finally decided to just jump in. They were filling bolts of Timeless Treasures, the maker of the pink scooter fabric I used for Tara's apron. I put in for several different fabrics, some of which I have a plan and some of which I don't. I think though, if the bolts don't fill, that I won't get those fabrics. I'm not exactly sure. Did I mention overwhelming?

IMG_9512 And now for the pictures. These are the other two t-shirts I bought from Old Navy for $4 each. The first one had the Stratocaster on it, and now to our applique collection, we add a robot and a puppy. The robot is a self-design, which is why I had to tell you it was a robot. I do really like the button eyes, and the zigzag stitch mouth. I also like how he's a little lopsided. I did have an issue with my sewing machine going wonky on one of the arms. Trying to remove all the knotted thread left a hole inthe shirt. Instead of panicking and cursing (well, I did curse a little), I just cut out a new arm, positioned it on top of the hole (slightly lower than the original placement), put some interfacing on the back of the hole, and voila. A wearable robot t-shirt for Little Bird. Only slightly ghetto.

IMG_9514 The puppy you can find here on Anna Maria Horner's website. I think it's a very cute puppy. The fabric choice for the puppy took me by surprise, but I love it. I think it goes really well with the shirt, and the pointillistic pattern is reminiscent of fur. It's a fabric I bought on sale at Pink Chalk Fabrics, and had no idea what I was going to do with it. Of course, I still have a lot more . . . I'm going to have to work on knowing how much fabric to buy. It's becoming a problem. A fun problem, but a problem. I was debating on an eye for our puppy, but I think I like him just as he is. The fabric is pretty busy, and the shape is obviously a puppy, so he's going to stay just so. His name is Pupstar.

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's a Strat, not a Tele

IMG_9352The birthday shirts have paved the way into more applique. While I made Little Bird's birthday shirt out of a plain white Carter's onesie, Pippi's mom picked out a cute white t-shirt from Old Navy for her birthday shirt. That inspired me.

I have bought a few t-shirts from Old Navy like the one shown here. I also picked up a color blocked tee from Target.

After collecting some solid Kona cottons, I started trying to decide what to put on the shirts. I was a little disappointed in how the color of the Kona changed once the Heat 'n' Bond was applied. The orange was a bright, sunny orange before, but once on the shirt, it had more of a rusty hue.

Of course, there had to be a guitar. I'm hoping to create a good silloutte of a jazz archtop in honor of Kevin, but for now, we have a Stratocaster. What I can't decide is if it needs detail. If I do humbuckers, then I'll feel like I should do strings. Strings would lead to tuning pegs and then it would look funny with no knobs. So I think I'm leaving it as is. Although I'm open for suggetions.

I used a decorative stitch around the edges. I'm not sure that I like it very much. The traditional applique stitch that I've seen? I don't think my machine does it. At least I haven't found it yet.

There are three shirts left to do. I'm planning a robot, another guitar, and a dog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Handmade Gifts

One of my favorite things about learning to sew is that I can make things for other people. There was a time not too long ago that I never would have dreamed I would give a handmade gift. Now? It's the first thing I try to give.

My friend Nicole had a baby boy in December. Drew received this tassle hat and scarf to wear next winter.

The mom board I'm a part of sometimes has swaps. You can make a gift or buy a handmade gift. Now? I can make a gift. It's so much more fun now! We recently had a love themed swap. I found some adorable fabric (once again on Pink Chalk Fabrics), and made this apron for my friend Tara.

Here's a close up of the fabrics. The little scooters are so cute!

And because I always like to use a pattern more than once, after all, the first time I'm blindly making my way through, I made another apron for my friend Trish's birthday. The fabric wasn't as nice, seeing as how I waited too late to order it online. I popped by Joann's and just went with "cute." Other than the spot on the bottom where I left the iron on it while I rescued Little Bird's fingers from the drawer he had closed them in, I think it turned out well.

My most favorite gifty project lately though, is this birthday shirt for little Pippi. She turned one this past Sunday, and she is sporting a cutie pie birthday shirt. Her mom picked out an adorable little t-shirt from Old Navy and the two pink prints for the "1" I think from Joann's. I thought the shirt turned out well, but I am probably mostly looking at the model. She's such a sweetie.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the Meantime

All of my current projects are happies for other people, so I have to wait to post about them until they are in their rightful ownership.

In the meantime, I give you the fabric I simply must have for my next bag:


Courtesy of Pink Chalk Fabrics, a great place to buy fabrics online. Which reminds me that I have a post about a handbag to write. I can't believe I forgot about that. My brain. So swiss cheesy these days. I've been enjoying using it so much, that I've forgotten to post it. You can see a sneak peek here though.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Birthday Party

Even though I thought that the whole of my craftiness lay in sewing, my friend Boo has proclaimed otherwise. She is due with her first child next month (we are holding out for me and LL sharing a birthday on Fat Tuesday!), and I have assured her that the maternal hormones are where craftiness lies dormant until you become pregnant.

Boo said to me this past Saturday at Little Bird's first birthday party, "You are so crafty!" I blushed, and wondered if it were true. Maybe, but I have to acknowledge much help and inspiration from my 12 year old stepdaugher, Mallory. CC's party would not have been possible without her assistance last week.

The party started with a dog theme. We made the invitations with some Microsoft clip art and Publisher. However, we did this on my desktop, and I cannot figure out how to get it onto my HP Mini. Of course, I could get up and go into the other room, but the invitations weren't inspiring enough to warrant actual physical movement.

Mallory and I made these cookies for party favors. The instructions came in the February issue of Parents as an idea for Valentine's Day. We thought they would be perfect for a doggie birthday party.

We looked for a cake pan that was shaped like a dog bone, but couldn't find one. I was alright with that because in reality I didn't want to spend the money on it. However, I am so not a cake decorator, it's not even funny. I can't write on a cake at all. It's horrible. We decided that we would make a puppy paw cake, and even though I had to tell several people what it was supposed to be, I was still please with it.

I also made little puppy ears out of some of the miles of felt I have leftover from our Christmas stockings (don't even get me started about how wrong I was about how much felt I would need for that project. It's embarrassing). We bought children's elastic headbands and sewed the ears onto them. Here are a few of the fabulous models:

And just because I am so pleased with how it turned out, here's one more shot of the birthday boy in his birthday shirt:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Birthday Shirt, Take Three

Birthday shirt, take two isn't worth it's own post. The prints I chose didn't work out for the layers very well. The stitch I chose was all kinds of awful, so I switched on the next layer. Bad idea.


Then I stitched the front of the shirt to the back of the shirt. Removing those stitches yielded a lovely hole in the back of the shirt.


I cut out some new appliques and tried again. Using only two layers this time and the stitch I found that worked better on the first attempt. I'm used a font called "Frosty" for the pattern. It's the same font I used for the names on our Christmas stockings.

Not exactly the most exciting narrative, but how about this mug? Here's the soon to be birthday boy previewing his birthday shirt.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tassle Hat Distraction


I needed a distraction yesterday. Since it is about to get colder than it has been in several years, I decided to tackle a tassle hat project I had been saving for Little Bird.

Last year, I worked on dog coats for my two girl pups. One turned out way too small, and one turned out a little big. Both left me with scraps of fleece, perfect for Little Bird's hat. I also had enough of the red fleece with stars to cut out a matching scarf this morning. I didn't sew any of it; I just fringed the edges and went with it.

All in all, this was a simple project. I'm not happy with the finish around the base of the hat, but I'm sure I misunderstood something in the instructions. I do that often. I'm planning on making some more of these and working out my own way to finish the seam at the base. My stepdaughter, Mallory, and I have plans to make some fleece blankets when she gets here tomorrow. Maybe there will be some more good scraps from that project.

I love good scraps. I love my little scrapper down there too.


Birthday Shirt


Little Bird is about to turn one, as is his little friend across the street. I have seen cute birthday shirts on several websites. A simple knit shirt with an adorable "1" appliqued on the front.

"I can do that," I thought. Many a disaster has begun with that thought.

Setting out to create cute birthday shirts for the two little ones, I googled "applique." All of the hits I found were about quilting.

I turned to my online girlfriends, and the advice and help came pouring in.

Girl, from Memoirs of a Mommy, recommended a link from Etsy Labs and recommended Lite Heat and Bond. Which I thought were two different products at first. Doh. Christina and Michelle also chimed in with wonderful tips.

I used scraps leftover fro
m a purse I made for my friend, Tonya, for Christmas. I found these fabrics at Pink Chalk Fabrics, a site that I really love.

My main concern is how the project holds up through the washing and wearing. I guess though, a birthday shirt won't really get that much wear. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the result. I have Little Bird's applique cut out and ready to go. I just have to find the time to stitch it onto his onesie. Time where he is not in the room because he's decided that helping me run the foot pedal on the sewing machine is the most fun ever. Fun,

maybe. Helpful, 
not so much.



I have been known to make fun of crafters. It wasn't until I started surfing through Etsy and made some new friends who considered themselves "crafty," that I began to understand that gaudy sweaters and piles of scrapbooks weren't the end of the road for crafting.

There are artists out there.

While I don't aspire to become an artist, I would like to learn how to use my new serger, and how to sew in a straight line. My craft aspirations center around my sewing machine and learning to make things for my family and friends. Things that they won't pack into the back of a drawer five minutes after receiving them.

I began sewing in October 2007. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that, since I don't feel like I have gotten much better since then. I've made a handful of baby clothes, a couple of purses, a half dozen rag quilts, Halloween costumes, and my proudest accomplishment, our family's Christmas stockings.

When I think back on all of the projects I have tackled, I wish that I had been chronicling what worked, what didn't work, what I would like to try again, and most of all, I wish that I had been taking more pictures.

This space, then, is not a "how-to" craft blog. It is simply a blog to document my projects. My failures and my successes. It is a place to collect ideas and hopefully connect with other amateur sewers. I dare not call myself a seamstress.

I am simply someone who sews.

Learning to Be Specraftular

I have been known to make fun of crafters. It wasn't until I started surfing through Etsy and made some new friends who considered themselves "crafty," that I began to understand that gaudy sweaters and piles of scrapbooks weren't the end of the road for crafting.

There are artists out there.

While I don't aspire to become an artist, I would like to learn how to use my new serger, and how to sew in a straight line. My craft aspirations center around my sewing machine and learning to make things for my family and friends. Things that they won't pack into the back of a drawer five minutes after receiving them.

I began sewing in October 2007. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that, since I don't feel like I have gotten much better since then. I've made a handful of baby clothes, a couple of purses, a half dozen rag quilts, Halloween costumes, and my proudest accomplishment, our family's Christmas stockings.

When I think back on all of the projects I have tackled, I wish that I had been chronicling what worked, what didn't work, what I would like to try again, and most of all, I wish that I had been taking more pictures.

This space, then, is not a "how-to" craft blog. It is simply a blog to document my projects. My failures and my successes. It is a place to collect ideas and hopefully connect with other ameteur sewers. I dare not call myself a seamstress.

I am simply someone who sews.