Archive of ‘sewn’ category

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?

dear spouse…

has your loved one developed a love of sewing? not sure? here are some tell-tale signs:

are they inspecting the seams of all textile-based items in your home? have they started turning paper bags upside down and muttering ‘just not sure how to account for the seam allowance’?  have you heard them cracking jokes about the blind hem stitch? noticed a lost look in their eye while they browse the crafting section at the bookstore?  are they frequently searching for places to ‘put a little table that no one will disturb’? did this blog post somehow land in your email inbox?

if you answered yes to any of these questions you should really consider surprising them with some sewing supplies this holiday. here are some good ideas:

1) a sewing machine (I know this is daunting. you can do it! look for one with regular and stretch stitches; the ability to drop the feed dogs; and a drop-in bobbin is extra nice…the Janome 2212 is a fantastic option as is the Janome Magnolia 7318. they are sold here as well as on amazon.)

2) a gift certificate for some awesome fabric. try Hawthorne Threads or Sew Mama Sew.

3) a crafting book! Bend the Rules Sewing is a wonderful beginner book but any of these will be delightful and swoon-worthy.


 4) a subscription to Stitch Magazine (it is hip, fun and comes with free patterns.)

5) thread. trust me on this…it sounds boring but is, in fact, the opposite.  a colorful pack of good quality Mettler or Guterman thread is like eating buttercream icing without the calories. btw, you want polyester thread in an assortment of colors.

6) a day of fabric shopping at this shop or this shop. this one is a double win…time away from all responsibilities and surrounded by scrumptious fabric.

7) a gift certificate for a happy stitch classes! oh yes, this is possible! just let me know how much and I will make a listing for you on the etsy shop. this is a super option because it means your lovely sewing-obsessed loved one can just pick the class she wants when the class schedule comes out and doesn’t have to worry about getting the payment in….p.s. $65 would be enough for one classes with a sewing salon thrown in! $95 would buy two classes.

UPDATED TO ADD** If they don’t already have it…this is a real winner: a 36″ X 24″ self-healing cutting mat, rotary cutter, and a clear ruler (photos below)!  sounds crazy, right? but these three items are otherwise known as the essential supplies for quick, proper cutting. they can get expensive so some sewers hold out on buying them. as a result, they would be an amazing (and super thoughtful) addition to a new sewer’s stocking. added bonus is that it makes you look like you really know about sewing!

essential supplies    

good luck! by the way, this year you will rock the gift giving! I can feel it.

are you looking for the giveaway? it’s one post down. sorry about that, I couldn’t wait too long to hand out these hints.

little stitchers first craft fair

this Sunday marked my very first time selling at a craft fair.  (cue: applause!) it was so much fun.  I spent the entire time talking and standing until my heels and throat ached…and the fair was only 3 hours long. but, honestly, you could not shut me up. I was loving it (and a little bit nervous) so I just kept chattering.  the nervousness is partially a permanent fixture but also stemmed from a thought I had earlier in the week.  I will share with you this little insight into my crazy. it goes like this:

you know when you have a garage sale because you are moving really far away and you are selling stuff you actually really like? you pull it all together the week before and you are kind of sad to let it go.  you debate with yourself over a few things saying to yourself…oh, but I really like this! but, I can’t take it with me! I’ve got to purge!!  then, the day arrives and you set it all out on your lawn and all your stuff starts to look a little shabby and sad.

people come by and they pass it over with a quick, judgmental glance.  or worse, they drive slowly in front of your house; deem your previously-loved items unworthy; and then speed away.  suddenly, that stuff you actually liked begins to tarnish before your very eyes.  at the end of the day, you don’t even want to bring what remains back into your house.  you feel demoralized and low. you order takeout.

I got it into my head that it was going to go down like this at the craft fair.  the things I lovingly made working away in my studio were heading down this road of sadness.  I’d never done a sale before…I had no idea what people liked and my head just got spinning.  I had nothing to trust but my own aesthetic sense and alone in my basement studio there came some doubt…….nasty doubt.

but, guess what! it didn’t go down like this at all! it was the opposite. it was the road to happy! friends came to help out; people wanted to talk to me; to hear about classes; to touch and feel and love the things that I made! it was awesome.  little girls bought skirts and put them on immediately…then they did spins or insisted on wearing them to school the next day! baby bibs, crayon roll and bags are off in the world prepared for their very own adventure.  I met new, crafty, local friends like Jennifer and I left beaming.

{view of the table. woot. woot.}

    

I was so worried about how things would go that I had had my husband count buttons and put them in a jar then I held a contest to see who could come up with the closest guess. the prize was a drawstring bag.  the contest was a huge hit, particularly with the under-9-female crowd. I mean a HUGE hit, girls were begging me to tell them how many buttons and dancing around talking about buttons.  in the end, I realized that I was in no position to be the one to tell them they didn’t win so I emailed everyone later to announce a winner. cowardly, I know. I could not handle the fallout.  (by the way, congratulations Jenn and Rebecca!! enjoy the bags!)

the two girls behind the table in the picture are my friends, though.   they were excited about the buttons, too, but they were honestly back there to help.  in fact, one of them held my hand for a while and told me stories in a really animated, fake-adult voice. it was probably one of the day’s highlights.

my boys arrived late in the day, they were thrilled to be ‘at my work’ and ran around like maniacs. all in all, the day was a little bit of chaos and a lot of fun…just the way I like it.

   

p.s. many of you have asked and yes,  I will definitely be updated and adding to the etsy shop this week. stay tuned.

p.p.s. thanks again to everyone that came out to see me. you made me sooo happy.

advent insanity

I’ve been very hung-ho with holiday decorating this year.  my goal has been to slowly but surely make a handmade Christmas home.  that way I don’t feel the need to make EVERYTHING in one feel swoop. by making a few things every year I can get closer and closer to the homespun goodness this holiday deserves.  this year I’ve tackled advent-ing with fervor.  this was one of those ideas that grew really organically…drawing inspiration from a few places and then working its way into something that was its very own idea. a kind of a  mod advent hanging:

     {sorry for the sloppy, cloudy picture}

I loved the idea of little mittens.  our house is full of them…scattered everywhere…they never, ever match. so, mismatched mittens litter this advent…each one is its own pocket. I didn’t go in with a plan for these pockets and it turned out they are too small for toys and would only comfortably fit kitkats or candy canes.  neither are my favorite thing to get the kids on as a steady diet all December long.  so, I decided to go with something new and made little slips of paper with an activity on it. that way the boys can take turns pulling out the ‘advent’ but can both participate in the activity.  I had so much fun making these little tags. some of pretty generic and some are specific to things I know we are planning on doing.  lots of the tags involve making things (of course!) and I was aiming for a mix of giving acts for others and fun things to make it a magical month. I also mixed big activities with simple ones that can be easily accomplished on a weekday so it doesn’t become an addition to an overwhelming  ‘to-do’ list….one of them is ‘hug a friend’  or ‘pet the cat’, for example.

   

the mittens themselves are made of red felt with lime-green accent sewn onto white fleece backing. I used lots of stitches as part of the decorative effect.  the mittens are ‘hung’ on single-fold bias tape and the dates are marked with regular stamps using fabric paint. I kept the number pretty subtle because I like it like that.  a simple ribbon frames the bottom and makes a tube for hanging at the top.

  

and, oh yes, there is more!

I went a little head over heels for the whole advent things and made a second one as a gift my guy, Kevin, who built this website (he did a good job, no?). he has, prepare yourself (breath), four young girls. so, I made really big pockets on this one.  lord only knows how you manage ‘fairness’ with numbers that big. each pocket has a number on it. I was going for a patchwork quilt effect with this.  the fabrics are from here.

  

{don’t worry, I didn’t give him nasty old paintbrushes, just used that to illustrate the pocket-ness}

the love ambush

my husband and i first wandered into the world of parenting like one of those freaky friday-type movies when a teenager wakes up to find they are ceo.  we had no idea what we were doing.  i’m still a bit perplexed by how we could be so completely blindsided by the whole thing. i was older than both my siblings and took care of them a lot.  we both had friends with babies. shouldn’t we have a better idea what we were supposed to be doing!?

i remember wishing that the pediatrician was coming home with us from the hospital.  um, he didn’t. he let us take the screaming, pooping, totally dependent little person home with us and nobody was even supervising the whole operation!

“you got a car seat? great, you are good to go!”

i’ve had time sheets given more scrutiny.

as we stumbled blindly through–amazed on a daily basis that we all remained alive–we slowly amassed the community of people essential to surviving the ride.  one of those people was our daycare provider, sandi.  she has the gentle nature that makes it possible for a sleep-deprived, work-stressed, over-caffeinated, crying jag-prone parent to hear, ‘yes indeed. your child is hungry. you are not feeding him enough and you need to supplement with formula even though you are fiercely dedicated to breastfeeding.’   huh.

for nearly two years, she was the one that let us ride off to work without worrying or feeling guilty. when our second child came along, we were excited to get to see her again on a daily basis.  she and her staff became nothing short of co-parents with us.

so, it was a bittersweet moment in the late summer when it came time for our youngest to move on out of her care. it meant we were moving on from miss sandi.  and, i knew i couldn’t let it happen without doing something special.  so, i got in touch with as many parents as i could and we made her a quilt. one quilt square for each child.

 

i rented out the space i use for my sewing classes for a one-day ‘make a quilt square’ event. and then dropped supplies off around town for a half-dozen more.  after a small bit of nagging and email hounding i gathered up all the quilt squares and started making the quilt. we’d already arranged the meet-up with her, so i had just a few days. i had to bust it out!

 

{even the cat helped a bit}

in the end, we made a quilt for her with squares from 24 kids and 17 different families. stitches and fabric from a sample of the kids and families she has loved over the past few years.  look at that quilt! it’s amazing! what if those kids all grow up and stay in this community and this little bit of time in their lives is still there on this quilt? it’s like a time capsule. the quilt has bits of fabric from special blankets, favorite type of toys and songs represented, the things that are special and amazing about each kid stitched together.

we intended to throw her a surprise picnic. i told her that my family wanted to meet up with her for bagels at the park.  really, 8-10 families planned to meet at the park and surprise her…let the kids play in the park while we snacked and chatted and gave her the quilt.

and, of course, it rained like crazy that day.  sandi and her husband were stranded in long island with water flooding the roads. but they got up at something like 4am to drive back FOR A SMALL GATHERING AT OUR HOUSE. they really did.  the roads were treacherous and rather than cancel they drove because she didn’t want disappoint my boys.  meanwhile, our house was filling up with kids and parents and food waiting for her.  and, that is when we (as one mom described it) love ambushed her.  she arrived…unshowered, tired, expecting a relaxing brunch with 4 people.  she was greeted by about 10 kids screaming SHE’S HERE!! then came the crowd and the food and the quilt.  it was a bit much i think.  there were some tears and a (respected) request for no close up pictures.  was it nice, what we did? i’m not sure.  but, it was well-intended. it was a love ambush after all, not just an ambush.  just an awkward way to say ‘thanks. you are amazing.’  thanks sandi. you are amazing.

the car bags

this summer, we all went on vacation to the midwest…minnesota and wisconsin, specifically.  it was a ‘high agenda’ type of vacation. we were stuffing in visit-time with grandpa, a work-y reunion for my husband, lots of meet ups with old friends, and a trip to my hometown of duluth to see grandma, aunty and uncle.  needless to say, there was much driving not to mention flying.  and, you know, kids are soooo awesome about sitting while fully strapped in for hours on end.  so i tried to be pretty prepared.  i made these ‘car bags’ that are really just single-strap bags made with heavy-duty interfacing so that they stay upright on their own, for the most part.  i added a fancy front pocket so i could rotate some eye-catching coloring books or truck books (more likely) to minimize the whining and hassling that inevitably occurs every time we get into the car.

they ended up being pretty handy and easy to tote into grandma’s house and the hotel, as well.  a transportable play station for the unplugged, kind of thing.  (that is, as long as i stayed diligent with repacking and resorting everything so that it was sure to draw them in. a practice no longer employed at home.)  the single strap included snaps so it could be unsnapped and hung over anything we pleased.

{i’m completely smitten with this canvas elephant fabric, believe i got it from sew mama sew.}

 i also threw together two crayon roll/paper pad combos that turned out to be GREAT for keeping little people occupied at dinner time in restaurants.  in our experience, dinner in a restaurant can be a wicked combination of both humiliating and also exhausting…it’s something we almost never do at home. so, a tiny solution to that problem was awfully welcome.

that’s not to say that two crayon rolls and upright fabric bags got us through every pickle but there could have been more, let’s just say that much.

it was a great trip and well worth the hassles that accompany traveling with little people, made a little bit better with a slice of mama-made, to boot.  and, of course, i wouldn’t miss a chance to see the three boys i love the most in the world next to the lake that takes my breath away.

 {lake superior}

 

 

kid clothes week challenge wrap-up

i have been so focused on preparing for classes and working on the website that i had kind of lost my sewing mojo. so sad, isn’t it? iI was even considering opting out of the Elsie Marley kids clothes challenge week , which i’ve done a few times before.

but at the last minute i went for it.  i decided to jump in the ring after the new book,  sewing for boys arrived at my door unexpectedly.  my mother confessed ‘she couldn’t resist’…she saw the book and knew i had to have it.  that was sweet, huh?

{here’s a close up of the beautiful welt pocket, of which i’m exceedingly proud.}

often during KCWC i’ve focused on making LOTS of things and this time the book inspired me to take a different approach. i set a goal of only making one thing….this cute little jacket up above.  for the little guy who so rarely gets something new.  the pattern is easy to understand and the book is straightforward but, you know…it’s a jacket so i didn’t want to rush and mess it up.  i took my time, tracing and cutting the pattern one day and cutting fabric the next.  no pressure to GET IT DONE just an easy, peasy enjoy-yourself kind of pace.  in the end, i did finish before the week was up and remembered the joy of making things. who could ask for more? even better, the jacket made elsie marley’s blog, which is a super gushy great feeling.

with my bit of extra time, i made both boys hats…that match. they are so cute (the hats and the boys) how could i stop myself?

1 34 35 36

%d bloggers like this: