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?

sew mama sew giveaway winner!

thanks to all who are checking back after giveaway week! the winner was Rebecca from Our Busy Little Bunch! I hope you do get the time to make yourself a cross-body pouch, it sounds awesome.

it was so much fun to get to know new people, see new blogs and get into the insanity that is the SMS giveaway.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about what everyone is making and what they made when they first started crafting.  I’m blown away by how many of you made boxer shorts in school. really?! it seems an odd place to start with middle and high school students. but, hey. who am I to judge. maybe boxer shorts were proven in some scientific study to be the gateway into future crafting.  who is to say.

my favorite part, by far, though was reading about how many of you still have the very first thing you ever made.  it’s so precious, isn’t it?

as promised I will be posting a tutorial on making your own sewing weight and a recipe for lentil soup…just because. so, check back for that early next week.

 

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.

sew mama sew giveaway: a baby’s happy stacker kit!

WE HAVE A WINNER! It’s Rebecca from Our Busy Little Bunch! I’ll send you an email soon, Rebecca.

 it’s giveaway day! and I want to kit. you. out!

welcome to the happy stitch giveaway! this little kit of sewing goodies is intended to flesh out your sewing supplies with some good stuff and get you well on your way to making this beautiful ‘happy stack’ toy for a wee one!

let’s get to it.  this sewing kit includes:

A  Heather Bailey ‘happy stacker’ pattern (retails at $13).  I love getting people sewing and this pattern makes it nearly irresistible! to help you with your project, the kit also includes:

*) a happy stitch original…a handmade linen sewing weight so you can weigh down the pattern and skip pesky pins (if you’ve taken my classes…you know how I feel about pins).  it’s cute, very cute and I’m not just saying that.

*) some ribbon for the happy stacker.

  

*) a seam ripper with a bright light at the end (includes a new battery to help light up your seams as you rip them out…not that this is going to happen, of course…you won’t need it, I’m throwing it in just in case. wink.).

*) an assortment of quirky, vintage buttons…just for fun. you probably don’t want these on your baby toy but they are just pretty. and, pretty is good.

    

I’m also throwing in: a purple bobbin holder to keep those bobbins tidy (woot!) but it isn’t particularly photogenic so I don’t have a photo.

here is how to win:

*) leave a comment in this post (you have until December 16th and I’ll announce the winner by the 18th.  make sure your email is current so I can contact you if you win!) telling me about the very first thing that you ever made and what you want to make next! answer long or short, tell a story or a poem or simply write up a list of two! I don’t mind.  I will make my husband pick a number out of hat so the winner is random.

And, yes! I’m willing to ship internationally. Why not?

Don’t forget to check out all the other amazing giveaways this week! click below:

good luck! (and, don’t worry…because everyone is a winner in my book, I’m cooking up a little tutorial and a recipe for everyone that checks back on the 18th!)

art projects for kids and random other stuff

this past week’s art project with the kids was a little more ‘supply intensive’ than usual but very satisfying for the boys because it was guaranteed to result in a beautiful piece of art work. we made these glass art displays for the window. I can’t for the life of me remember the website that I saw this project on but it was amazing and filled with fantastic projects, many of which are bouncing around my head. sorry to that website and all their hard work. my head is obviously bouncing around with lots of stuff or I would remember your site!

this project uses dollar store glass frames with the backs removes, clear glue, glass pebbles, and suction cups.  to prolong the fun I also had the boys ‘wash’ the clear pebbles. they loved splashing them around in a tub of water and felt a part of the preparation of the project, which is always nice.  once everything was dried, I handed them both a bottle of clear glue, a prepared frame and  sponge-style paintbrush.  they poured on the glue and spread it with the paint brush (it’s important to put down lots of glue! my cautious boys poured out a small amount…I had to encourage them to really go for it.) then they can place the pebbles wherever they want.  interestingly, both boys stacked the pebbles on top of each other while I laid all of mine flat (of course I made one, too!).  I love the way that kids don’t always see the barriers that adults do…why not stack them?!

  

 

after they had dried for a LOOOOONG time, I super-glued suction cups onto the glass-side of the frames so they would stick up on the window.  and, that is were they are displayed now! (note: I don’t entirely trust the itty-bitty suction cups that I glued on, so they are still resting on the window sill a bit.)  it was a dreary, wet, grey week last week so it was nice to have a little something brightening up our window.

  

I think we are going to try this next. though, I’m seriously considering doing it without the kids and giving it to them as a holiday gift.

I’ve also got a lot of projects going for handmade holidays this year but I can’t share those just yet! don’t want any peaky peakers to lose out on their surprise. but, here are some nice ideas.

finally…keep your computer close tomorrow! it’s giveaway day at sew mama sew. hundreds of bloggers give away handmade items, sewing supplies, and other craft supplies. it’s insane and super fun and be sure to check back here! I’ve got a giveaway to seriously kit out a sewer! …it’s not to be missed, my friends.

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.

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.

1 56 57 58 59 60

%d bloggers like this: