the scrambled quilt

last week I was working on a pattern to accompany my beginner baby quilt class (for sale soon on etsy, I promise!) and after making the model quilt, I had some remaining scraps leftover.  I  love the challenge of scraps. they just beg me to play, ignore the rules and make something unexpected. so, I succumbed to temptation and set aside some time to wrangle the fabric into a ‘playmate’ sized quilt that I’m calling the scrambled quilt.   I named it that because I think it looks a little scrambled but I love it.

 I did lots of piecing together and cutting apart and the design came together as I went…there was very little forethought I just went with what felt right. I’ve always like a good amount of crisp white in a quilt so I threw some of that in at the ends. it was great fun and nice to get out of the routine of following directions and over thinking and just enjoy a bit of the creative process.  I used the backyard baby fabric from patty sloniger, all of which is adorable.

my littlest one thought it was pretty great, too and had to get in on the action.  don’t tell me you aren’t tempted to tickle that exposed tummy or grab those little toes!


yum! it’s this kind of free-form process that reminds me of the joy of making things. no pattern to glance at every ten seconds (I have a terrible memory) and no agenda.  just me, my eyes, the cotton, and my machine.

the perfect travel bag

I’m back from lovely California…a little tanner and definitely refreshed. can I confess something? after a morning of hot coffee and sunshine at the beach I sat under a duvet and watched a movie surrounded by some of my oldest friends…it was 1pm.  it was insane. and glorious. I came home with stories of surfboards and cacti to enthrall the boys.

but before I left I was inspired mostly by the amazing bags being made in my current bag class.  I decided that I need the perfect traveling tote bag so I made this sucker:

it has a small inside pocket and then outside pockets on all four sides. it even has a key strap. (you know how you always want to know where your keys are but you never actually need them when you are on vacation? well, the key strap keeps them in one, easily-accessible place at all time.)  I used navy canvas from purl soho and amy butler’s lotus fabric from hawthorne threads for the lining. the pockets are topped with twill tape and all the fabric was sturdified (a word?) with heavyweight interfacing.


in all honestly, i’m in love with this bag. I was ridiculously organized on the plane. when I felt like listening to music, I knew just how to find my iPod.  when I wanted to read my book, all I had to do was reach down for the outside pocket and there it was.  plus, it’s awfully big so everything under the sun fits into it!


short trip to the ocean

here is a little something from a songstress new to me:

I’m off to see some water and gather around a flock of old friends in sunny california.

no kids, no husband, just me in a patch of sunshine with the kind of friends bound to one day be there to remind me to put in my teeth.  be back next week!

a very mustache valentine

happy valentines day all!!

this morning my three boys (the two littles and the one big) got a little morning chocolate (!) and a love note in their felted pillows. but, we celebrated valentine’s day officially on sunday.  we had smoothies and pancakes for breakfast at our heart filled and decorated table. then we went bowling, it was big brother’s idea and it was great fun.

I had some last minute inspiration and pulled together  this year’s valentine’s card on saturday.  I’ve been seeing so many great uses for handlebar mustache props and then one night at dinner the boys made up an imaginary guy named Mr. Mustache and they couldn’t stop laughing about it. it gave me the idea to make them mustaches for their valentine.  it seemed a little more ‘boy’ than the hearts, sweetness and light I’m typically drawn to.

I made the mustaches out of shrinky dinks by drawing big mustaches and coloring them with permanent marker.  once it was cooked, I superglued them to popsicle sticks and stuck it through two slots I cut in the card. the card is just a flat red card stock I had around the house.  I printed the note on regular paper, cut around it with fancy scissors, cut out a heart in the middle and glued it on the red paper, then I used an exacto knife to cut two slits for the popsicle stick. it was easy enough that I was able to accomplish all of it while they were at the library with their papa.


we had a pretty good time playing with them.


hope your valentine’s day has a good dose of silly, too.

p.s. I have identified one thing that can suck all of the joy out of valentine’s day and it’s forcing my kids to crank out what felt like hundred of valentine’s for school friends.  sheesh! that was a little scary.

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 :: paper heart table runner

 I love a decorated table but not in the fussy-perfectionist-way….more in the extra-special-fun way.  this paper heart table runner is exactly that.  I made it last year by cutting out hearts from a mix of red and pink papers and simple running them one by one through the sewing machine.  alongside some red placemats and berry smoothies it made for a great way to greet an otherwise ordinary valentine’s day breakfast. the best part? I get to pull it out and use it again this year.

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