Archive of ‘sewn’ category

the year 2012 and some sewing goals

yes, I realize that it is mid-February and a little late to be talking about 2012 as if it were still on the horizon.  nope, it’s here and fully happening already but I’ve always been a little slow when it comes to these kind of things.  I am hoping that is part of what you love about me. right?

so, here it goes…deep, deep thoughts about 2012.  first, I’m so excited to be teaching so many amazing classes (by the way 2 spots still remain in the beginner–super tote class!).  it really has been a fantastic, inspiring adventure already.  I love the way that different people bring different and creative ideas to everything.  I find that it helps to fuel my creativity too.  so, I’m looking forward to lots more of that in 2012.  second, I’ve got some great commissions underway that are making me really happy.  I mean really, really happy. I’m like a humming, buzzing bee around my studio these days.  I can’t wait to share the details about these but later because I have too much other stuff to share today.  last, 2012 really feels like it holds so much incredible potential especially after how incredible 2011 has been.  feels like I’m starting on this incredible platform and ready to launch into a smoother-running sewing-teaching machine!

and, as a smoother-running sewing-teaching machine I have a plan.  this little plan started out as what felt like an ambitious idea and then it just grew until it started to take over my brain and became ESSENTIAL and something that I MUST DO.

the plan is to sew all my summer clothes this year! here is my justification: summer clothes can be simpler and so can be finished a bit more quickly than other season’s clothing; summer clothes are full of fun prints and so allow for use of fun fabrics; summer clothes include things like ‘beach dresses’ which can be loose and flowy rather than perfectly fitted; summer is a time for whimsy and fun clothes so I get to play, play, play; and most importantly, summer is months away so I have some time, right? RIGHT!

here is my list of things I want to make am going to make:

wow.  that is looking like a lot.  my rules are that I can only purchase summer shoes and no clothes.  if I want it, I have to make it.  we will see how it works out. I will certainly be blogging about it as I go.  but, I hope it turns out to be a splashy summer, my friends.  there is always the risk that I will just become that crazy patterned lady, too.  interested in joining me? we could do it together and keep each other updated?! let me know and I create a little blog button.  I’d love company.

alright, I do have a confession.  the truth is that I have already made the two skirts on my list.  they are the same as the skirt we make in my a-line skirt class.

this one is made from a japanese cotton-linen blend that I bought nearly a year ago and only just recently cut into.  I love the pop of colors on the soft gray background.  this skirt has just the right amount of structure to it that it is comfortable but still looks clean with smooth lines. I added a little red piping to the area near the waist hem and finished it with a blind hem stitch. I happen to be a big fan of the blind hem stitch, I like the way it looks professional and clean and not so becky home-ec-y.

  

this one I made a while ago…so I’m cheating just a little bit. it’s made from a table cloth that I got at a yard sale.  I cut it on the bias to combat how stiff the fabric and I like the way it drapes and the way it looks like a vine is wrapping around me.  it also really effectively hid some stains!

a-line skirt I’m a big fan of this pattern from wendy mullin’s sew u book.  it seems to fit everyone really well and even though it is a standard skirt, the a line shape is maintained better than other skirt patterns I’ve used.  that said, there is one gaping problem with this pattern and that is the sizing.  it runs so unbelievably small that the smallest size seems better suited for children, to be honest.  it really could benefit from some bigger sizes.  to teach it in my class, I’ve had to create my own size up, which is crazy.  that said, that’s my only gripe. the instructions are clear and include a great, foolproof technique for inserting a zipper.

ok, wow.  that is a long post. but, I’m very excited and very amped on caffeine.  I had better go direct that caffeinated energy on a few other important things…like tonight’s class!

the year 2011

sometimes a blog post is like an imaginary friend.  it’s living and breathing and writing itself in my head for so long that I actually start to think that I’ve written it already.  but when I sit down to actually write it all my ideas are scattered and my attention span is short and….well, it doesn’t happen.

this is one of those posts.  I’m late in writing it because, even though it is already written imaginar-ily, it’s a breathtaking reflection for me.

how to begin to look back at the year 2011?

I’ll start with numbers:

1 conventional job left behind

1 home life and 2 small boys with lots more mama time

1 website created and 8,003 html codes gone wrong

9 sewing classes taught to a revolving ragtag group of 28 amazing people (and growing!)

at least 10 sewing machines newly nestled into to the homes of that ragtag group

28 new, crafty, creative friends to obsess about sewing with

2 craft fairs

2 very special quilts

100 cups of coffee, 145 (or so) yards of fabric and 310 (approximately) spools of thread

here it is in pictures:

work hard, sew hard max.quilt.sneakpeek            

thanks so much to everyone that made 2011 a stupendous year.  every single person that has waltzed through my classes has not only been a natural sewer but also become a friend.  you all make the *work* behind a happy stitch worth it. I’m guessing there are easier ways to make new friends but none are nearly as fun as this.

2012 is already swinging with an incredible skirt class under foot and a bag, beginner, and superhero cape class up ahead.  plus, I got a few soon-to-be-revealed sewing goals in mind as well. maybe you will want to join me with those? huh? huh?

 

make it :: felted heart pocket pillows

this year, the three boys in my house are getting heart pocket pillows with a love note and candy tucked inside.  I made two different kinds…two hearts with the seams inside and one (for my husband) with the seams kept outside for a ‘raw edge’ kind of look.

it all started with a pretty honest moment between me and my closet.

no melissa, it really isn’t appropriate to wear a sweater that requires you to keep one hand permanently on your hip and never raise your left arm because of two ever-widening holes. give up the ghost, these sweaters are done.

so, fine.  the sweaters landed in my ‘felting’ pile and instead of lingering there I took charge and did actually felt them along with a few others that were waiting patiently.  to felt them, I cut the sweaters apart at the seams and threw them in the wash on a hot, heavy soil setting.  then, they were shipped off to the dryer on the highest setting.  I had to repeat that whole cycle once more to get them to truly felt.

they went from this……………………………………………………….to this.

  

once wool is I felted it holds together tightly and the edges don’t fray so it can be used for a gazillion crafting purposes. to make the pillows with hidden seams I used a pretty conventional method: cutting out two hearts from the felt; sewing a pocket on the front of one side and sewing them right sides together; leaving a small opening; turning it inside out; putting in some stuffing (and even shredded sweater bits for heft); and finally hand stitching shut the opening.

to make the raw edged felt heart I came up with an easy method that I’m going to share with you just in case you also have an honest-closet moment:

cut out a heart from paper (fold the paper in half and cut out a half of a heart; open the paper to reveal a heart just like grade school!!)  position two pieces of sweater felt and one small triangular swatch such that it will form a pocket at the bottom of the heart. place the paper heart on top of your sweater felt and pin it in place.

 

don’t cut around the pattern, simply sew around the pattern.  keep the paper in place, just pulling pins as you sewed like a conventional pattern but leave a small opening, about 2.5 inches without any stitches. it should look like this:

then, cut around what you’ve sewn and stuff in polyfill fiber as well as some of the remaining sweater felt cut into tiny pieces—it’s a great way to use up the sweater scraps and gives the heart a little heft.  last,  sew the opening and there you have it, a felted heart pillow pouch.

just for fun I hand-stitched on a little heart from another piece of sweater scrap. voila!


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. 

the aprons

a close friend of mine asked me to make match-y aprons for four of her dear, far-flung friends and I jumped at the chance.  the great thing about taking on a commission like this is that I got to hear all about the challenges and joys these women have had in the past year and carried all those stories in my mind as I was sewing away.

 

 

my friend chose ty pennington’s block print style fabric for the aprons, which is so homey but at the same time still looks fresh.  I got it here.  the apron is a pattern I made by mixing the bottom of an Anna Maria Horner apron pattern and the top part of one from Lotta Jansdotter….and a few other personal alterations and tweaks.  I just love an elegant neckline and prominent waistline with a full apron bottom so I threw them together.

  

 

each apron got it’s own drawstring bag…in case they ever get together for some serious baking.  I love aprons because there is hardly a milestone in this life that doesn’t involve food in some way.  may these aprons be the hardworking splatter-catchers for a whole host of future joys and challenges!

handmade holidays :: mason jar sewing kit

I snuck in a little crafty making this past holiday…a mason jar sewing kit.  yup! pretty amazing.  as soon as I saw this fantastic tutorial from momtastic  I was obsessed and had to make one.

I fell in love with the oh-so-sweet idea of a portable sewing kit. because despite how modern and hip sewing becomes it still carries with it the legacy of mothers, aunts, grandmothers, great grandmothers and a handful of fathers and grandfathers, too.  there is no denying.  in my sewing classes (when we are not sewing, or course) we are exchanging information, discussing kids, gossiping, or looking to each other for support and advice.  as a friend pointed out, that is probably exactly what the age-old sewing circles were all about. she also believes old school sewing circles might have just formed the foundation for early feminism.  perhaps, it’s true. either way,  sewing connects people and has for generations.  all of that is a long way of saying, it might be a good idea to have a sewing kit that is handy and ready to travel.

the only real making involved in this gift was transforming the jar top into a pincushion, which the tutorial illustrates beautifully. then I stuck fun semi-retro sewing supplies into the jar–a diaper pin for pulling elastic through casing, hand-sewing needles, plastic flower buttons, flat head pins, a tape measure, and I made the sewing weight. it all fits in a jar….and that is ridiculously cute if you ask me.

        

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!

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?

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