Archive of ‘inspiration’ category

valentine idea :: from the archives


I thought I would share of my past valentine creations this week starting with these cards from last year.  I’m particularly proud of them because I got to use up fabric scraps AND sew on paper, which is a weirdly satisfying thing to do…it feels almost naughty. they are pretty simple and it’s probably pretty obvious how to make them but indulge me while I share what how I went about it.

 

I started by ironing my fabric scraps (cut cleanly using my trusty clear ruler, rotary cutter, and cutting mat) onto freezer paper.  freezer paper is this crazy stuff with paper on one side and a waxy coating on the other side and it just so happens that it sticks to fabric superbly when ironed.  you can find it in the grocery store, sometimes it requires a bit of hunting but most places seem to carry it.  I used the freezer paper to stabilize the fabric so that my cutting and tracing could be more precise.  next, I traced some hearts using cookies cutters onto the fabric using a fabric marking tool to make uniform heart shapes.

after cutting out my hearts, I peeled off the freezer paper and held them in place while I sewed them onto the paper.  you can’t really pin through the paper without actually making things more difficult and/or sloppy.  other than that, it’s just regular sewing, except it makes a cute punch-y sound while you sew.  I used alphabet stamps and standard stamping ink to print the letters.

easy-peasy.  and, so cute and modern looking…in my humble opinion. I had a few clear vellum envelopes leftover from some other card-making escapade and I especially liked how those looked when you could see through to the card as below. 

handmade holidays :: gifts for family

this was my surprise gift for family members (and one friend, too). rice packs, sprinkled with a bit of lavender oil.  the rice itself is in its own separate sack.  the linen shell is to make it all look nice.  it closes neatly with velcro.  in the microwave for half a minute or so and they transform into an aromatic, cozy heat source. imagine one of these in the bed before you crawl in…mmm, warm toes! now that is what winter is about.  i got the idea from this tutorial at the ever-inspiring sew mama sew.

I have been crazy about linen lately. I love, love, love the way it feels and how it creases so easily…makes it easy to work with. it’s got such fluidity and softness. also, it’s made from flax. and, that is just neat. check out this incredible site with one of a kind linens. oh, so hard to steer clear from needless fabric shopping!

I will admit it was a little hard to let these go because, of course, I didn’t get around to making one for our family.  but, that is one of the best things about January.  it’s a big strip of time, energy and efficiency stretching out in front of me. so much that can be done! and, it will be done well! and cleanly!  and I will be fitter! I promise to keep you abreast of how that all works out.

in the meantime, watch for more handmade holiday gifts to come. and, happy new year!

music to sew by

I realized today that I do not remember a Christmas season that didn’t involve making things by hand.  I just simply cannot think of a time that needle didn’t meet thread in the name of Christmas.  I know it happened because I didn’t really start sewing in earnest until after college but I just don’t remember what the lead up to Christmas was like then maybe instead of sewing I was baking or making something out of paper (I’ve had lots of weird phases).  maybe I just went shopping…and that was that. maybe it just wasn’t very memorable…so I don’t remember it.

{scraps}

but, in the years since then they have become memorable…I mean who could forget the year I was wrestling blue flannel or decided at the last minute to make a quilt.  making is now ingrained in the tradition for me and the hum of the sewing machine is ingrained in Christmas for my family.  this week got busy on me…I thought it was all under control and then it just wasn’t.   I got a few commissions and decided to join an arts market this coming friday and KAZAAM! there went the calm and collected and in blew a frenzy.  but the good kind of frenzy.  and good music has made it even better.  so, since I can’t share what I’m making (I want surprises, damn it!) I thought I would share what has me shaking my head in my swivel sewing chair.  enjoy!!

Thao Nyugen–Bag of Hammers

Stornaway–I Saw You Blink

The Decemberists–This is Why We Fight 

Basia Bulat–In the Night 

and, if you are in town pop by and see me on friday at the artisan market off main street!!

bring on the Christmas kitsch!

I was lucky this year when a burst of creative Christmas spirit coincided with some organizational forethought.  it doesn’t always work this way.  in fact, far too often those two seem at odds with each other.  but, not this year! no sir. I ordered Christmas fabric (from here) in early November rather than thinking of it mid-December and then deciding it was too late.  it was a proud moment.  and, with that fabric I made us a table runner in full Christmas glory.

   

I like how this came together but I’m not exactly sure that I love it.  it’s a little bright and kitschy for me, in some ways.  but, I like the patchwork look and the mix of prints and solids.  the olive green adds something a little unexpected that is nice, I think.  but, I know the boys are going to love it. and, that isn’t something that can always be said about a table runner.

 I also used some of the scraps to make stockings for my husband and myself.  the top two in this photo.  the bottom stockings were made for the boys a few years ago and I like them a lot.  but, the stockings I had made for my husband and I were getting ratty and were pretty poorly made a long time ago.  so, time for an update! (thank goodness I had Christmas themed fabric on hand! what great forethought on my part!)

                

the quick and dirty guide to making these is as follows: I drew a basic stocking onto paper and then extended the top by 3 1/2 inches for the fold over and added a 1/2 inch all around for seam allowance. then, I cut 2 of liner, 2 of the outside fabric, and 2 pieces of light batting.  I decorated the outside fabric with appliqué circles–cut using my compass fabric circle cutter that is amazing and a little bit life-changing, by the way. also, with lightweight interfacing ironed to the back of the circles, they are much easier to sew on straight.

the lining stockings were sewn right sides together.  the now-decorated outside fabric was sewn the same way but with the batting sewn in at the same time–acting as the wrong side of the fabric.  then, place the lining stocking inside of the outside stocking with the wrong sides facing each other.  to finish, turn over the top 1/2 inch of the stocking and sew with a topstitch.  to apply the letter, I used a freezer paper stencil.  to add the ric-rac, I basically copied the way this tutorial applies it to cloth napkins.

our oldest, C, is in hard-core pre-reading stage and is constantly stringing random letters together and asking if it constructs a word.  “mama. what about L-Y-I-S-R? what does that spell?”  a part of this phase involves showing off his growing knowledge of letters and so he sometimes calls everyone in the family by the first letter of their name.  the other day on a walk when his little brother ran ahead and I sped up to keep pace he said, “Hey! M! J! Don’t leave C behind!”  at dinner, he said to Papa…”I love you K.” it’s totally awesome.  so, the fact that our stockings are hung with all initials is making me really, really happy. the fact that the house is filled to the brim with Christmas kitsch is also making me really happy.  I’m sure it is all going to make me undergo some kind of minimalism freak-out in january.  but, that’s ok.  that’s what Christmas is for, right?

book review :: patternmaking for a perfect fit

a while back Steffani Lincecum sent me her book “Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-Off Technique to Re-Create and Redesign your Favorite Fashions”.  Steffani is a sewing instructor who has taught costume construction at the University of Wisconsin and has worked on shows like Will & Grace and 3rd Rock from the Sun in addition to crazy things like sewing wings for a trapeze artist in a Tom Petty video. she is the real deal. I was more than a little thrilled when she asked me to discuss her book on the blog.

the book covers two different methods for making patterns with the emphasis being on re-creating existing items.   both methods are what is called ‘rub-off’ methods…one with paper and the other using fabric. the book takes you through both techniques and show you how to create patterns for skirts, dresses, blouses and handbags.  every chapter relies on a ‘source garment’ meaning a single garment used to make an original pattern.  it then outlines the best method to use; walks you through sewing the simple design and then provides more advanced options.  for example, her skirt chapter starts with a basic pencil skirt then provides the information necessary to alter the pattern to a casual denim skirt; a wool tweed pencil skirt; a striped a-line skirt; a wrap skirt; a bias-cut cotton skirt; and even adding in pockets. so…essentially working from one simple skirt to any kind of skirt you could imagine.

she does the same thing for the chapters on dresses, blouses and handbags…it moves from basic to advanced.  if there is one word for this book it is THOROUGH and I mean that in a good way.  some patternmaking books skip over how to sew it all together once you have created a pattern and others don’t really provide what you need to make your own patterns.  this book is doing everything from ‘cradle to grave’ as the expression goes.  by that I mean it includes 1) a discussion on the basics of fabric construction and tips on tidy sewing (anyone who has suffered through my beginner sewing class knows how near and dear to my heart both of these things are!) 2) how to measure yourself properly and how to estimate the amount of fabric you will need 3) making a pattern and then altering the pattern and 4) sewing it all together for each and every alteration as well as the basic pattern.  it takes you from from beginning to end.  in all, I’m very excited about this book. I’m proud I own it and I’m excited to dive into it…probably in the new year.

that said….

  

it is a ‘diving in’ kind of book.  when I open up this book I get the sense that I have to COMMIT to this book if I’m going to get anything out of it.  I think there are a lot of books out there right now that are ‘project-based’.  you can pick up those book and browse through them…get inspired and bang something out.  they are fun and inspiring. if those books are twilight this book is anna karenina…and not because it’s stodgy or hard to read, it’s an easy read, Steffani has a very friendly and real voice…but it’s because it for real. for real, for real.  it’s a college education in paperback form.  there is a lot in this book and a lot to be gained from having the discipline to really work from this book.  I’m genuinely hoping that I can set aside time in 2012 to work my way through this book and pick up every gem of wisdom that Steffani lays down.  maybe I’ve been eating candy and it’s time for some broccoli?!

 

stay tuned.

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