Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mother and Baby

*Oops, not McCalls, the pattern is Butterick 4944.*

More Christmas gifts...bear with me.
On my last full day of Christmas crafting before returning to work, I was feeling short on time and short on ideas. There are a couple of ladies in my life who needed gifts but I just hadn't come up with the perfect fit for them. The longer I spent brainstorming ideas the shorter my list of possibilities became. There was much pressure to pull the trigger on something, just to get the ball rolling. Yeeps...stressful! But in the midst of gift making panic, I found some calm in an old familiar pattern.

The "mother" is a (I think) McCall's pattern that I first used for a traveling bag last Spring. The "baby" is my own smaller version of the pattern that I had made for a much needed Summer purse.

Didn't someone say that marathon gift-making is not the appropriate time for trying out new patterns? Well I certainly can't say that I adhere to that rule but it sure does feel good to make something familiar. You don't have to keep double checking instructions, you know which steps can be glazed over and you know exactly how it's going to turn out. These two bags just flew through my sewing machine.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A happy Christmas

Alright! We've done it. Christmas is over and it was great. Harv and I are in Minnesota, spending the holidays with his family. So you know what time it's time to share more handmade gifts, now that they have all been given. My sister gave me a hard time because she saw this shopping bag on my blog before receiving it. How about that? She reads my blog! Who knew?
So now that it's safe, here's the full body shot of the sneak peek I gave you earlier.

It's a western shirt for Harv's mom, Dar. Along with being a very crafty lady, Dar is a bit of a cowgirl at heart. The pattern is McCall's (I'm sorry I don't have the number!) and the embroidery patterns are from Sublime Stitching.

AND, guess what Harv got me for Christmas!

A MacBook Pro, and just in the nick of time! My old laptop is crapping out big time. So Merry Christmas to you and Merry Christmas to me too!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Charming Handbag

One of the gifts I completed on Sunday:

It's the Charming Handbag from Bend-the-Rules Sewing. This baby came together super fast. And I do mean baby. It's so much tinier than I though it would be! This could be my fault though. I didn't feel like scanning and resizing the pattern piece so I just figured out how big it would be at 129% and drew it myself. Have I mentioned I was a math major? And have I also mentioned that math and arithmetic are really not the same thing? I'm good at the former, stinky at the latter. So my bag might be a bit smaller than intended, but I think that only increases its charm.
Be warned that the measurements for the handle and casing pieces are not included in the book. They can be found here at the book's Flickr group along with other errors. Reading through the comments about this pattern I saw that someone suggested making buttonholes through the lining in stead of making the casing. I thought that was an ingenious idea.

The casing pieces seemed impossibly small and I think this just looks neater, not to mention they were quicker and easier.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sneaky Peek

It is eleven o' clock, my reinstated bedtime. Today was my last day of hiatus. Boo. But what a day it was. I managed to knock out three handmade gifts today. Three! And not simple shortcut gifts either, three gifts that I am very proud of and excited to give, two of which I kind of don't want to give, I want to keep them for myself.
I love the third gift too, and to be honest, it is the gift I am most proud of, it's just not quite my taste. I do think that it suits the tastes of it's recipient though. I really really hope so, because although I finished this baby today, it's been a long time coming! I don't want to share the whole gift just yet but I will give you a little sneaky peek.

With this unexpected burst of productivity I'm feeling much more relaxed about working this week but it's still sad to see my dear friend hiatus leave me yet again. The good news is my other friend Christmas break is going to be here real soon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gift for Who???

I've decided to share a few of the Christmas gifts I'll be making this year, before they are given. The reason for this is that I'm not working right now and hiatus tends to be a time when I can really devote a lot of effort to not only my crafts but also my blog. I like to share with you all! Once the gifts are given, I will be back to work with not so much free time. Also, I'm sad to say that I have serious doubts about the regularity with which most of the people I will be giving gifts to read this blog. You know who you are. Although you're probably not reading this so you don't know that I know you know who you are.
So, completed gift number one:

A very stylish reusable shopping bag. Made from this pattern, this was a fun and easy knit. My one complaint with this pattern was this line: " Use a very stretchy bind off like Lucy Neatby's Modified Conventional bind off [see Lucy's Knitting Essentials DVD volume 1 for a detailed how-to]". Come on! Just teach me a stretchy bind-off, or at least tell me where I can learn one without buying a DVD. I did a search online and ended up using and Elizabeth Zimmerman bind-off that I found here.

I used Tahki Cotton Classic in Linen White instead of the hemp yarn called for in the pattern. I was much too impatient to order anything online.

The handles are gross-grain ribbon with some cotton twill tape as a lining. I sandwiched the edge of the bag between the two and machine stitched them together. I also classed it up a bit by using this pretty ribbon for the draw string, rather than a cord.

Isn't that neat? It folds into itself so you can keep it with you. I dig it and I certainly hope its recipient does as well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Baby Quilt

The aforementioned baby quilt is quilted, labeled and washed. Now to pack it up with the bibs and ship it off. That's the part where I usually drag my feet.

The quilt is 56" square. I used bamboo batting that I bought at Joanns. It's 50% organic cotton and 50 bamboo (which the package says is "naturally antibacterial", who knew?). This stuff is so silky soft, I wish it could be on the outside of the quilt. Also, the maximum quilting distance is 8" which I think is pretty cool compared to 100% cotton which is, what, 3 or 4 inches? Really, the reason I bought this was because the crib size is 60" square, not 60" by 45" like other cotton batting and I knew I would be making a square quilt. But I was also curious about this new product. It's made by the Poly-fil people, so I don't know how ecologically sound the rest of their business practices are but this stuff seems pretty great. You can read more about it at their website.

Anyway, the quilt is made up of 81 4 inch multi colored squares separated by 2 inch strips of a neutral khaki solid. I love me some neutral background! I also love the pillowcase binding aka birthing method. It's kind of a non-binding. I liked the simple border of the neutral fabric and I thought that was frame enough for this quilt.

I quilted around each square and a quarter inch from the edge. And lo and behold, I actually made a label.

You may recall that I have been a bit grumbly about labels in the past. Of course, I understand the merits of a good label and I thought this quilt was especially deserving of one. I made the graphic in Photoshop, using brushes I downloaded here and here, found via Dooce. I printed it out on an inkjet fabric sheet and voi-la. Preserved for all time.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sunday Up-D's

Christmas is fast approaching and the end of our hiatus is coming even faster. I have much that I hope to accomplish in the next week or so.
As of right now, our tree is up and looking fabulous, even more so than last year with the addition of some sweet little Martha Stewart ornaments bought at Macy's, including this tree topper. (Sorry for the teeny image...I guess you can no longer buy it online.)
I also have for the first time, my own little craft room tree.

Fake trees go against every little bit of Christmas spirit that resides in my soul, but a little baby bonus tree is a clear exception to that rule. I also don't have the heart to leave certain ornaments in a box in favor of stylish themed ornaments. But again, baby trees give a little creative outlet without forcing me to abandon Harv's extensive collection of Donald Ducks and Packer hat wearing mice (although we do prune those down, just a bit). Of course the only craft room tree theme that I have going on this inaugural year is "Box of ornaments I bought at Target four years ago." But they're so tiny and sweet! And if it weren't for them, this baby would probably be naked.

In addition to Christmas gifts, I'm nearing completion on this brand new quilt, made for a certain brand new baby.

And to go with the quilt, a trio of bibs, made from the pattern in Bend-the-Rules Sewing.

I did nothing to jazz these up at all. I was looking for some sort of mindless crafting that I could complete relatively quickly, thus making me feel better about myself one night, and these fit the bill. If you know a baby and you need a crafty pick-me-up, make one.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Long Time No Blog

There's no good reason for my recent lapse in posting so let's just pick up where we left off, ay?
At long long long long last I have finished this beast.

A Denyse Schmidt inspired queen sized quilt for my sister Lauren's birthday. Her birthday, in case you were wondering, is June 6. Guess what tomorrow is! It's her half-birthday! Yes, this gift is 6 months late. But it's such a special gift, surely that's okay!

So what took me so long? I don't know. It's not like there was anything particularly difficult about this. I think I just reached several plateaus of motivation and had a hard time working my way past them. But it is done.

Hey, here's something cool: because Lauren lives in Connecticut where a thin quilt doesn't cut it in the winter I turned this quilt into a duvet so she can use it year round. I quilted together the quilt top, batting and a queen sized sheet from Ikea. Then I bound that together with the actual quilt back, leaving a three foot opening at the bottom to stuff a comforter into. It's convertible! Clever, aye?

Of course you can't put a new quilt out anywhere without this happening:

If the quilt weren't going to my sister I wouldn't let the cats love all over it. But where this baby's going there will certainly be much more of the like.

PS Check me out: I've been nominated for a major award! I'm very excited and there's no mirror in here but I think I'm blushing as I write this. The ceremony isn't until February and in the meantime I must find something fabulous to wear. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kitchen Accessories

Busy busy busy! My goodness, there's a lot to do. It makes me quite glad that we're not working. Robot Chicken Season 3 ended for Harv and I about two weeks ago, we met his parents in Arizona (where this was taken in case you were wondering), then brought them back to our house for the rest of the week and we arrived in Connecticut on Tuesday morning to spend T-giving with my family. In the meantime I really really really wanted to finish this quilt for my sister Lauren. Her birthday was in June. I'm so close to being done but I had to throw in the towel the night before we flew out. That will be my first order of business as soon as we return. I did however have time to make some birthday gifts that were late but just barely.
In this case, just a few days! That's really good for me.
My dear friend Niamh is a doer of many things, one of which is cooking.

I've had the idea for this apron design for a while now and Niamh's birthday seemed like the perfect motivation to get me to actually make it.

Included with the apron was a matching oven mitt, made with a layer of regular batting and a layer of Insul-Bright.

It works pretty well, much better than two layers of regular batting.
The second mitt is for me.

Also for me...

Another off-set square pin cushion, made from the oven mitt scraps! This one is a baby. The squares are only 3 inches wide. I really love it is a perfect sewing accessory! I highly recommend you make one of your own.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dar in the house

My in-laws are visiting this week. Harv's mom Dar is a quilter and serious knitter. In between knitting away she helped me tackle this beast (that I'm ashamed to say has been hanging around for several weeks now). As a little thank you and a "welcome to my craft room" I made her this sweet little pin cushion.

It's sort of made from this tutorial. I read it a couple of days ago and made this today from what I remembered. So quick and easy! The bottom fabric is some home dec fabric left over from some roman shade that my mom and I made for her game room 5 years ago. The top is an old favorite of mine that I have been clinging to since college. I'm ashamed to say that I bought it at Wal-Mart. I swear I would never do such a thing these days. I hadn't yet realized the horridness of Wal-Mart in those days.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Number 3

Three years and counting.
For our first anniversary (paper) I made Harv an album full of photos from our first year. For our second anniversary I made him this cotton quilt. Third anniversary is leather and as much as I love the idea of making Harv an appropriate gift every year I just couldn't come up with a handmade leather gift that he would actually like and use. So, for the leather, I bought him a new wallet. For the handmade gift, I made him this western shirt.

Harv has been on the look out for what he calls "snap shirts" for the last couple of years. We haven't had much luck recently; I think their popularity is waining. Not in our house though, so I thought it would be great to make him his own custom, Lady Harvatine western shirt.

The fabric is one of my favorite little vintage repro prints at Joanns. I used it for the lining of a laptop bag I made for Harv last Christmas and it is now his favorite as well.
This is certainly the most elaborate article of clothing I have ever made. It was very satisfying what with all of the snaps and edge stitching.

Harv has already requested another. With his permission, I might try a little piping on the next one.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


For Halloween this year I've dressed as a girl who was late to work because she was sewing this headband.

Harv is going as the world's most gigundous mustache.

(This is the first time I've seen Harv's naked chin, ever.)

Monday, October 29, 2007


Made for no particular reason:

Puzzle ball from Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts.
I just wanted to make something small. Something to keep myself busy. This seemed like a good little challenge. It was. Not too much of a challenge though. Just the right amount.
I apologize for the garden hose in the picture. I didn't want to move it because if I did I would have scared away my background models. Here's a closer look.

These two neighborhood (stray) cats like to spend a lot of time in our yard. I think they're married. They're always snuggling each other and sleeping together. But don't worry, they were both fixed by the neuter-fairy so there will be no backyard kittens for us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Green a little green

I am pretty far from being as green as a girl can be but I try. I have found many little ways to be greener that are so easy and really don't take any extra effort, just a different kind of effort. One of my longest lasting green habits is the use of cloth napkins. The habit started in college when some friends and I lived in a house we called "The Green House". It was a theme house and the inhabitants were supposed to come up with a theme that would benefit the campus community in some way. It was really just a ploy to get ourselves into a house sophomore year and only one of the five of us was a staunch environmentalist beforehand. (Hi Allison!) She first made us a stack of cute little cotton napkins and I think she would be pleased to know that to this day a paper napkin has yet to be used in my home. I have a lot of them and they even have their own little hamper in the laundry room (which is right off the kitchen) where we toss the napkins when we're done with them. Then I can just throw them into the wash anytime I have room in a load of laundry.
Of course, after three years of marriage and using the same napkins, my stash is getting awfully dingy. They still work fine but it is much more enjoyable to dab your lips with something pretty. And so:

Pretty little napkins, kind of made from the pattern in Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts. I used 18" squares and jumbo rick rack. I made two of each because I only had enough rick rack for four but that is just fine. There are plenty of dinners for two around here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sewing revival

While I did not make it even half way through that pile of ironing from yesterday, I did manage to sew something! I was inspired by this lovely bag made by Kim. Hers looked so nice I dug out my copy of the book and took a whack at it.

The "Pleated Beauty Handbag" from Bend-the-Rules Sewing.
I used some brown wool suiting for the main bag, some Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy for the pleats and some happy orange polka-dots for the lining.
I made some small changes to the pattern, none of which you can see in these pictures. I used canvas instead of flannel for the interfacing to make it thicker and sturdier. I made a 4 inch facing out of the suiting and then lined the rest of the bag with the orange polka dots and I sewed a little key fob made out of the Denyse Schmidt fabric between the facing and the lining.

If I were to make this again I would trim the edges of the lining pieces rather than pleat them as the pattern says. I was going to do that this time around but I wanted to be sure that the bag would remain nice and roomy. I think that it would have, even with the smaller lining. As it is I feel like there's just too much fabric inside of the bag. I think this is made worse by the large pocket. I did make a different sized pocket than the pattern suggests but I don't think it was too different. I just kind of winged it. It seemed a little big but I figured "Big bag, big pocket". It ended up kind of droopy. It will certainly work but I guess I just wish the inside looked a little more tailored, like the outside.

I will certainly get some use out of it though. Big bags are easy to fill with necessities. Plus, it definitely ups the "fall quotient" around here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


The sick puss (still). At least he gets a real kick out of getting in the carrier.
The queen on her throne.
The extent of Halloween in our house as well as a swatch of fabric from the new couch we ordered.
A whole mess of fabric, washed and taunting me.
This is all I've managed to iron so far. Dun dun dunnnnn.
I will sew today! I'm committing!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Take Two

I'm sad to say that two months ago Harv and I had to welcome Pac-y back into our home. He was just too big for his intended family and they had to return him. This wasn't totally unexpected. In fact, I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. At least Pac-y made it home for Harv's birthday.
If you'll remember, Ethan gave me this Pac Man fabric on the condition that I make something out of it for him. Pac-y didn't quite fit the bill so this weekend I took a second crack at it.

Do you know what it is?!? No!!! Of course you don't! You are probably not nerdy enough (though I'm sure there are exceptions). It's a case for a Nintendo DS Lite, the current hand held Nintendo game console (think Game Boy but less old and big).

I don't have a picture of a DS to show you because I don't have one and so I made this case based on dimensions that I found online. So...I'm not sure if it's going to fit. I wanted it to be snug-ish. I just hope it's not too snug.
This was a bit of a challenge to make. I used Peltex on the front, back and bottom for a little structure and padding. It worked well but made it difficult to sew some of the seams. It's so tiny! I sewed all of the layers together so there were raw edges inside of the case. I finished them of with some homemade super tiny not-on-the-bias tape. I don't have a 1/4 inch bias tape maker so I just folded and ironed this. I had to sew it on by hand. I tied doing it on the machine but it was just too hard.
So, it's a little wonky but overall I am very happy with the result. Hopefully this won't be returned to me a la Pac-y!

Update: It fits!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Lots of non-crafty things have been holding my attention lately.
Taking care of this guy.

Visiting the LA county fair.

Just a little bit of sewing.

This is just a little sneaky peek. I'll share more soon!