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.

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}

bring on the food

i really can’t express how happy thanksgiving makes me.  we’ve been menu planning all week.  here is part of an actual conversation:

what about brussel sprouts? oh my god! we don’t have a brussel sprout plan!

babe. babe. it’s okay. remember, we are going to do them for Christmas.

(and then i calmed down.)

 

it’s urgent and important these decisions.

in the end, we are having homemade cranberry relish and green bean casserole from here (horrible name but great magazine); roasted root vegetables; raw kale salad; marinated radishes because i couldn’t stop thinking about them after hearing someone discuss a recipe on the radio;  roasted potatoes; apple crumb pie; cupcakes from here; and oh yeah turkey/fake turkey and stuffing.

a mix of new and old, i suppose.  we will eat well, that much is for sure.

what about you?

whatever you munch on…have a great thanksgiving!

 

shop update and upcoming craft fair

  

just popping in quickly to say that i’ve added a few bibs to the shop.

and calling all locals! i will be selling goods at an upcoming craft fair (my first!).  so come and join me on Sunday, December 4th, 1-4pm at the Irving Primary School’s cafeteria here in Highland Park.

art projects for kids, mostly

for a long, long time my oldest, C, was just simply not interested in art projects. he dreaded them, complained about them, and refused to participate.

as you can imagine, this made a little part of my heart ache. eventually, (perhaps developmentally?) he came around. now he loves art projects and is eager to join in. i noticed that part of what won him over was when the results of his effort were more vibrant and exciting.  for example, he was all over coloring as soon as i brought oil pastels into the mix and he had more than drab crayons to color with.   (have you ever noticed how awful some of the art supplies are for kids! like the crayons they give you for free at the restaurant that barely even work! why bother! it’s such a turn off to the whole process.)  anyway, i’m trying to be all over this one and think up some fun and exciting art projects. so, the other day we went on a walk and collected rocks for the express purpose of painting them. the boys thought this was great. “paint rocks!” it was very exciting.

i’d envisioned this project as being simple…we paint the rocks, add some eyes and shazam! pet rocks.  but, we didn’t have goggly eyes, just green dots and the boys didn’t want two green dots on some of the rocks they wanted lots of green dots.  so, green dots were added with abandon and each new creation was set aside to dry on little foam sheets.  pretty soon we had a growing company of rocks and it was beginning to look awfully nice.

i’ll admit that i was responsible for lining them up quilt-like, in the beginning, but once it started it was C that decided which one went where.  in the end, both boys spent an honest 40 quiet, fully-concentrating minutes on this project, which is a lot for us. the best part? i really enjoyed this project and think it genuinely looks nice.  plus, i got a humbling reminder that my kids have their own innate sense of style and design and the best thing i can do is butt out.

this next project is basically the opposite.  i pretty much took charge and did most of the work (including the work of encouraging them to get excited about it) but it was totally worth it.  it’s so exciting.  SNOW GLOBES! ok, not snow globes but halloween globes but the same idea.  oh yes. homemade snow globes. let me say it again: snow/halloween globes. and, we made them. it’s so easy.

1. save up some jars with their lids and clean them.

2. find some stuff that fits inside.  this is a good things for kids to get involved in…’what fits? what doesn’t?

3. glue the stuff to the inside of the jar lid with hardcore glue, let it dry.

4. throw some glitter in the jar (we only had these metal party favors) and fill up with water (preferably distilled water if you want it to last a while) and a drop of glycerin to help the glitter float.

5. pop that lid on the jar and tip upside down.

yes, it is that easy. (we found glycerin at the health food store but i didn’t look very hard and i think we could have found it for cheaper elsewhere.)

here is martha’s version.  i can already tell you that we are going to be making a lot more of these for christmas.  if i had all the time in the world i fear that i would take this snow-globe making down a long, weird road…making little snowy worlds in a jar….i could get sucked into that, for sure.

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