Pattern Parcel :: The Julia Cardigan

Snuggly Stripey Julia Cardigan | a happy stitch

It’s Perfect Pattern Parcel time! This time around the pattern bundle is 100% women’s clothing and I am so smitten with all the patterns. I was jumping up and down when I was sent the bundle.  What to make?! So many options! The honest truth is my closet doesn’t have many fall items that I like and I’m aiming to sew my way out that problem.  This pattern bundle is a great place to start.  Look at the options:

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!
I made a few things, which I’ll be sharing for the next week but first up is this Julia Cardigan from Hayley at Welcome to the Mouse House. I have been lusting after this pattern for a while. It fits so perfectly with the life-with-kids and work-at-home pieces of my life.

Snuggly Stripey Julia Cardigan | Perfect fall weather cardi made by A Happy Stitch

Speaking of, special thanks to my husband for these pictures and to the kids for patiently exercising their bike riding skills! They managed to avoid crashing into me…most of the time.

The cardigan is very snuggly and certain to become a regular part of my wardrobe. The pattern is really versatile and so easy to put together.  I was very happy with it. I probably shouldn’t have tried it the first time with stripes, though.  There are lots of places stripes need to align on this cardigan and mine didn’t always match up with their stripe buddies quite right.  It was pretty good but not perfect.

Snuggly Stripey Julia Cardigan | a happy stitch

The fabric is a lightweight jersey knit I bought at Jo-Ann a while back.  I also made the tank dress I’m wearing.  I modified the Jorna tank dress to be more a-line to create this simple slip-like dress.  It’s also perfect for the comfortable everyday wear look I’m going for most days. And, how fun an entirely handmade outfit that (I hope) doesn’t looks too mumsy.

If this pattern package looks good to you don’t forget that you get to set your own price (but if you pay over $32 you get the bonus pattern making it only $5 a pattern! Score!) and some of the funds go towards a charity, Donors Choose, that benefits schools.  Plus, it benefits Independent Pattern Designers who are regular people like you and me, making things and selling them to support their families.  The sale ends on Halloween so scoop it up now mamas!

Pattern Parcel #6: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win

Color Story Workshop & Creative Vulnerability

My Unique Color Story Workshop with Amy Butler | a story of creative replenishment from A Happy Stitch

At a certain point on my journey down the road as a creative freelancer, I realized that my creative spark kind of fizzles out if I’m not purposeful about replenishing it.   Don’t get me wrong, I get so much out of teaching and sewing new patterns.  It’s a constant flow of good ideas, good energy and new ways of doing things. And that is revitalizing, it really is.  I love it.  But, if I don’t stop and stretch myself in new directions every once in a while, in a manner that is restorative, well, I kinda lose my mojo.

My Unique Color Story Workshop with Amy Butler | a story of creative replenishment from A Happy Stitch

That is exactly why I jumped at the chance to take Amy Butler’s Color Story Workshop at the Montclair Art Museum last month.  I’ve actually done this workshop before, when I was at The Makerie in Boulder a few years ago, so I already knew that it was magical.  I realize it might seem silly or frivolous to take the same workshop twice but, you guys, Amy is an incredible human being. (She is also super tall, I mean seriously, I am 5 feet 6 inches and she towers over me.)  It’s her spirit, though, it is so gorgeously generous it almost blows you away.  She talks so honestly about her struggles with finding a creative path and she talks through her entire design process without holding back.  It’s an inspiration to be around.  After she talks and shows us slides from her travels, she lays out how those experiences brought her to some of her most well-known designs.  Then we get to work and pull together fabric, images, scraps, ribbon, paper and other ephemera to make our own color inspiration boards.

My Unique Color Story Workshop with Amy Butler | a story of creative replenishment from A Happy Stitch

My Unique Color Story Workshop with Amy Butler | a story of creative replenishment from A Happy Stitch

It’s relaxing and challenging and, well, frankly amazing.  I left exhausted to the core and so full of ideas about color and design and the creative road ahead. Guys, I’m striving for a creative life. On a good day that feels great and all that matters is that I know what I’m aiming to accomplish this year and I’m working toward those goals.  On a bad day, it’s not so pretty; it’s a road full of doubt and vulnerability and uncertainty and the fear of failure.  Sometimes I feel really decadent and privileged when I do workshops like this one.  Truthfully, it is decadent and privileged. No doubt.  It’s also integral to keeping me anywhere near anything like ‘on balance’ or even still riding the train on the tracks.  Do you have a strategy for keeping yourself on the creative straight and narrow? Workshop? A group of friends? What’s your favorite approach for battling the blue meanies?

My Unique Color Story Workshop with Amy Butler | a story of creative replenishment from A Happy Stitch

(Amy Butler and some of the amazing women in my workshop)

Present Perfect :: the Sweet Life Pillow {+ Giveaway}

Sweet Life Pillow from Present Perfect | made by A Happy Stitch

I’m a big fan of Betz White and not just because of her bright, colorful style but also her eco-friendly ethos and her reputation for sewing expertise, something I knew about already from making this travel bag.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to be asked to join the blog tour for her new book Present Perfect.

Sweet Life Pillow from Present Perfect | made by A Happy Stitch

The book is focused on a variety of sewn goods that can be made as gifts for a variety of folks including men (yay!), kids, babies, and anyone moving into a new apartment or house. I jumped at the chance to make this awesome pillow, the Sweet Life Pillow. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to learn the technique for making it.  And, of course, Betz White didn’t disappoint.  The pillow not only looks fantastic but it also doesn’t skip a step.

Sweet Life Pillow from Present Perfect | made by A Happy Stitch

Every aspect of its construction is characterized by high-quality craftsmanship.  Both the front and the back are quilted and the whole pillow comes together beautifully.

Sweet Life Pillow from Present Perfect | made by A Happy Stitch

I mean…bam!…look at that bee! So awesome!  Never mind that it pairs PERFECTLY with my Melody Miller whole cloth quilt.  Serendipity!

As for the down and dirty details: I used bits from my stash as well as fabric from Amy Butler’s latest line Glow, which I received at her color story workshop a few weeks ago (more on that in another post coming soon).  The binding is a yummy Anna Maria Horner fabric that was given to my by a lovely friend. I wasn’t sure about adding an orange to the mix but I love it. I did make a few modification but minor, minor ones.  For starters, I opted out of putting eyes on the bee, it just looked too hard to stitch two perfect circles.  Secondly, I minimized the width of the outside binding, just my preference to keep that smaller.

Present Perfect - jacket art

Present Perfect By Betz White is available from Interweave/F+W  or enter my giveaway (more info below) to win a copy!   Betz even made a sweet little video:

GIVEAWAY: If you are interested in winning a copy of the book leave me a comment by Monday, 12am EST! Tell me your handmade plans for upcoming gift-giving.  What are you making? I love sharing in the crazed making madness of this season. Please note: Only US-entrants can win (sorry international friends) and the book must be shipped to a non-P.O. Box address.  Thanks!  GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! A random number generator picked #12 and the twelfth eligible comment is from Jane who said:

“Melissa! your pillow turned out so so good! I love it! Those little finger puppets on the front there are really cute too ;) I always end up making bags of some sort or the other…i’ve also got plans to knit a few cowls this winter…hmm….i actually haven’t started my list yet…guess i should do that so that i have time!”

Looks like you have a new book to help you along Jane (as chance would have it Jane is a good friend of mine and crafty co-conspirator.  Random that number generator surely is!!).

Be sure to check out the whole tour for a sweet sampling of what is included in the book:

Happy Home
1.     Sew Mama Sew – Make & Bake Apron excerpt – Mon, 10/6
2.      Stacy Sews – Falling Leaves Appliquéd Placemats – Tue, 10/7
3.      House on Hill Road – Hot Mitt House & Tea Towel Set – Wed, 10/8

Memorable Moments
5.     Sew Sweetness – Wool Courier Bag – Fri, 10/10
6.    Raspberry Sunshine – Gentlemen’s Travel Case – Mon, 10/13
7.      Pink Chalk Fabrics – Pasha Pleated Clutch – Tue, 10/14
8.      The Long Thread – Eye Candy Glasses Case – Wed, 10/15
9.      Made with Moxie – Cargo Tablet Sleeve Thu, 10/16
10.  Bijou Lovely – Coffee Cash Coin Pouch – Fri, 10/17

New and Little
11. Flax and Twine – Forest Friends Finger Puppets – Mon, 10/20
12.  Imagine Gnats – Bib, Rattle & Burp Baby Set – Tue, 10/21

Disclosure: This might be obvious but I received this book from the publisher as a part of my participation in the blog tour, my opinions about it are my own.

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