Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Advent Calendar

I made this Advent calendar just as I was beginning to learn to sew- For some reason I thought sewing all the little pockets on by machine would be really complicated, so it is all hand-stitched!  Even around the edges of the tree itself.  I embroidered or embellished each little pocket by hand.  It's inspired (read: blatantly copied) from the Telluride Advent Calendar from Pottery Barn (pictured here).  The girls LOVE it and can't wait to start checking the pockets tomorrow morning (after I iron it a bit and find a sturdier way to hang it)!

And today is November 30... That means I completed NaBloPoMo!!!  I can't believe I found something to say every. single. day!   Thanks for reading, and hopefully this will prompt me to continue posting more often... Just maybe not every day!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Just a little sampling of some of the fabric and patterns that have joined the stash in preparation for Christmas sewing!

Some pajamas, some stockings, some bags, a quilt (sorry hubby, that one's just REALLY unlikely to happen by Christmas!), a dress or two...  Ho ho ho!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Make Do and Mend!

One of my favorite things about learning to sew is that I can now easily fix things that might once have gone in the trash.  Last night I made a big list of all the things I need to sew before Christmas, and I decided that before I started I should tidy up the sewing room.  While I was doing that I unearthed a basket of "to be mended" clothes and decided to set to work.  I fixed a major tear in a pair of my husband's jeans, put an applique over a hole in my daughter's leggings, learned how to use a snap-setter to repair a bib, and made a new insert for a doll stroller!

I'm especially pleased with that last one, and annoyed that I waited so long to do it!  The insert that came with it tore within days and has been progressively getting worse.  My daughters' poor dolls frequently tumbled right out of the thing.

I salvaged the buckles from the original, used stash fabric, and used bias trim that belonged to my husband's Grandma.  The girls were thrilled and immediately put it to work!

Now that those distractions are taken care of and the sewing room is tidy (as tidy as it ever gets!), I can get to work on that Christmas list!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Small Business Saturday

Since I went on about Black Friday yesterday (and had a rough time this morning at a certain big box sewing store which shall remain nameless), I thought today in honor of Small Business Saturday I would share a bit about some of my favorite independent stores.

Happy Bambino was my home away from home when my oldest daughter was a baby.  The store's mission is "Happier families through parental empowerment and community support."  They offer parent support groups and classes as well as great locally made or small-business made products for babies, kids, and moms.  Cloth diapers, baby carriers, natural and sustainable toys, breastfeeding needs...  Truly anything you could need in the early years of parenting.  The store is in Madison, WI and online.  And hey, my daughter is right there on the front page, grinning in a blue fleece pouch!

 Bratsacks Baby is not local to me, but an amazing small business just the same.  Owned by a mom who started making kids' backpacks as birthday gifts, Bratsacks has grown into a big name!  She makes backpacks for toddlers and big kids as well as messenger style bags for grown-ups.  She uses reclaimed materials wherever possible and the work"mom"ship is impeccable.

KnitterKnots is another friend's shop.  She makes beautiful longies for babies and toddlers- For the uninitiated, longies are wool pants that can be used as part of a cloth diapering system or just worn as incredibly adorable and cozy pants.  If you get lucky you might also catch a custom slot for a tunic or dress!  Beautiful stuff.  How cute are these monster pants?

StarbrightBaby makes small stuffed giraffes that are hands-down the best teething toy we ever used.  And they last long beyond the teething stage!  At 3 and 5 my girls still love to play with their giraffes.  They are sturdy, beautiful, unique, and are stuffed with eco-friendly filling. She also does customs, so if you have a favorite fabric you can get a giraffe made just for you!

I have many other talented friends I want to share with you, but this post is getting long so I will save some for another day!  Remember to think handmade while you're holiday shopping, and support small businesses!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday!

So did you get any shopping done?  My husband, who has never "done" Black Friday before, was up and out at 4am to get some absolutely necessary piece of technological equipment at Target. He was stunned to realize that Black Friday is, in fact, a huge deal and people take it seriously!  I think he thought we were all lying when we said it would be a madhouse.  He learned that lesson quickly. 

I was out at a much more reasonable 8am to get some very necessary pillow forms, batting and $1.20/yard flannel!  The girls will be getting matching Christmas PJs after all!  We waited in line for 45 minutes to check out at Joann.  It wasn't my usual neighborhood Joann, because we're out of town for the holiday- This one only had TWO registers and while they were working as fast as they could, there were a LOT of shoppers.  But a wonderful perk I'm still adjusting to about life in the Midwest is that people are generally just so pleasant!  Lots of chatting in line and no grumpies!  Of course, there are exceptions to every rule...

What deals did you find?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be filled with family, friends and food!

I wish I'd had time to make something pretty for the table- like these!

Fall Table Runner by Knitty Bitties.
By Sewing Geek via Flickr

From Twiddletails

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Simplicity 2382- Walker Bag

After visiting my Grandmother this summer and seeing that all the cool 90-year-olds had nifty bags on their walkers, I promised to make her one.  It took me a few months but I've finally gotten around to it.  It's View D from Simplicity 2382 and it's made to go over the front bar on a wheeled walker.  I suppose it would work on a regular walker too!  The construction was very unusual, and I used duck canvas for the lining so it was tough to turn, but I really like the finished product. 

I don't have a walker, so a chair will have to suffice for pictures!  This one shows the inner pockets which are just about 4" deep.  Perfect for a phone, remote, little notepad, whatever!  In front of that is a larger pocket for books, magazines, etc.  Both sides are identical, so I stuck a magazine in the other side to show the depth.

Here's a straight-on view.
It opens up flat and has a handle to carry it when it's not on the walker.
There's velcro on the inside to hold the panels together when it's over the bar, and a patch of slipper-gripper to keep it from sliding.

I'm going to send this as an early Christmas gift since I promised it to her in July!  She turns 91 in December, too, so it will be a birthday gift as well.  Happy Birthday, Grandmom!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Indygo Junction Over the Top Tunic

Here's a slightly better picture of the Over the Top Tunic.  It's a little stiff, I'm hoping it will soften up in the wash.  And I think I might redo the hem.  And oops, I should have re-ironed it after carting it home last night!  But here it is!  And I think this might be the first picture of me on this blog!

Linked up at

Fresh Poppy Design

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thanksgiving Dress

Today I made myself a dress to wear to Thanksgiving dinner.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera when I was at the sewing lab, so all I have is a blurry camera picture.  But since I'm participating in NaBloPoMo, I'm posting it anyway!  It's Indygo Junction's Over the Top Tunic. I used a cotton sateen with just a tiny bit of stretch, accented with a blue asian floral I've had in the stash forever.  I had a love/hate affair with this dress as I was sewing it, but I think the final feeling I have toward it is affection.  I don't love it, but I think we will get along fine.

I will, of course, wear a camisole underneath!  It hits just above the knee and went together very quickly, barring a few bonehead mistakes that were entirely my fault! 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Beautiful bag

I got my gifts from that swap I've been secretly sewing for!  Yay!  My friend Jessi of Bratsacks Baby made me this absolutely beautiful bag.  I've had my eye on her bags for years, and my kids each have one of her adorable kids' backpacks.  I don't know for sure that she was my swap partner, but I do know she made this bag!

She uses a lot of reclaimed materials, which I love.  Seriously, LOOK at that bag!  Beautiful!  It's got oodles of pockets and those bright colors will be so cheery through the dreary Wisconsin winter.  I also got a pack of new blades for my rotary cutter!  That's something I always skimp on and it gets really annoying, so that was an absolutely perfect gift!  She ALSO sent a beautiful hair stick, some yummy chai, and some adorable fabric- the same print used on this bag.  This was such an awesome package to receive after a dreary week of wet weather and sick kids.  Thank you!!!!!

Friday Night Sew-In

My Friday Night Sew-In time was pretty limited.  I had to go see the new Harry Potter movie!  And then not long after I got home my three year old woke up and would not go back to sleep without Mommy.  She's got the sniffles and I couldn't refuse her, and of course I ended up falling asleep too!

So here's what I did manage to get done.  I'm making a Kwik Sew robe for my five year old out of this fun rainbow fleece.

I've got an old pattern, but it looks like it's basically the same as the current Kwik Sew 2705.  The mornings are getting really chilly and the poor kid has to get up before the sun to get ready for school!  This is not a household of morning people, so this has been a big adjustment for all of us!  She'll get the robe for Christmas to help make the cold mornings a little more cheerful!  I am very nearly finished, I just have to put the trim around the neck and down the front, around the sleeves, and then make the belt!  I'll share pictures when it's all finished.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Happy Harry Potter Day!!!

I had big plans to make myself a nice new Harry Potter themed bag to take to the new movie tonight, but sick kids, cancelled flights for the hubby, and lots of swap sewing to do (some of which I can't post) leaves me with no bag and no sewing to post today.  I still have the little tote I made for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, but that was a long time and a few skill levels ago, so I'd really like to make a great new one, maybe with a freezer paper stencil of the Deathly Hallows symbol!  Maybe the stars will align and I'll be able to churn something out tomorrow morning.  But if not I know I will still enjoy the movie tremendously!

In the meantime, here are some adorable videos of the film's cast.   Sorry the edges are cut off, but they're really about the audio anyway!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Creative Space

My creative space is a MESS this week!  So many projects going on, so many starts and stops.  I can share this, a few auditions of fabric combinations for my Pillow Swap partner.  Fortunately, my partner has similar taste to me, so whichever pillow I end up deciding is just right for her, the other(s) will have a happy home here with me!

Check out some other creative space at  Kootoyoo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Butterick 5125- Apron

This apron was part of a swap-- But not for my swap partner!  It's a "Pamper Our Mama Friends" type swap, so it doesn't have to be handmade, but lots of crafters and lovers of all things handmade are participating.  So I did a trade with a friend, she's making something for my partner and I made this for hers!  It's Amy Butler's Memento in Burgundy from Love.  The pattern is Butterick 5125, view A.  I left off the bow and added a pocket.  This is the third time I've made it and I really like it!  One of these days I'll have to make one for myself!

And just to clarify, that is not my machine in the background, nor is it my dress form.  They're in the sewing classroom I go to every week.  It's really hard to get a picture of an apron without a form, I think I'm going to have to keep an eye out for one, just for display purposes!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A dress becomes a skirt

This adorable t-shirt dress was a gift to Lizzie when she was about a year and a half old.  It includes some of my favorite-ever fabrics, and she has worn it way beyond what's reasonable- it had basically become a mini dress when I decided something needed to be done.

So last week I took action.  I cut off the top, leaving about two inches of the knit fabric.  I sewed it to the inside to make a casing, threaded in some 1/2" elastic and voila!  A skirt that will get at least another year or two of wear!
 I'm adding this to Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story!
Fresh Poppy Design

Monday, November 15, 2010

Amy Butler Yoga Bag

I am certainly on an Amy Butler kick this month!  I've finished the Reversible Everyday Shopper and the Gum Drop Pillow, I made an apron with fabric from her Love collection (which I'll share as soon as I can get some decent pictures-- Taking pictures of an apron without a dress form is tough!), and I started cutting out a Cosmo Bag from Style Stitches.  And last night I finished a Nigella Yoga Bag, which is one of the free PDF patterns available on the Amy Butler website.

The body is cotton duck and the pocket is from Melissa Saylor's Linden collection. I wish I could go back in time and buy bolts of this stuff, I love it so!  This is another fabric from the "before I could sew" stash.  I wish I had some in the blue, too.  SO pretty.  It's lined with a neutral batik with touches of purple and green.  One of those random thrift store finds that I knew would be perfect for something someday.  This is another gift, and it will be on its way to its new owner soon!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Books Books Books

So many fantastic sewing and quilting books have come out in the last few months, and so many more are coming out soon!  Here are just a few I've got my eye on.  Got any suggestions for others I need to add to the list?

The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker from Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson is at the very tippy top of my list.  Amazon has an extensive "look inside" option for this book and I want to make EVERYTHING in it!  Reviews are beginning to pop up in blog land, and it has all 5-star reviews on Amazon.  And if you've seen Elizabeth's work, this is not surprising at all, she is amazing.  I cannot WAIT to get my hands on this one!

  Amy Ellis' Modern Basics: Easy Quilts to Fit Your Budget, Space, and Style is due out in February.  The words modern, easy, and budget put this one on my list before I even made the connection that it's by the Amy's Creative Side Amy, host of the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  She does beautiful work, and this book looks to be chock full of fun, easy quilts that will be great for skill-building and gift-making!

Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color, Design, and Inspiration by Malka Dubawsky is due out in just a few weeks. This is another one that just grabbed me with it's fun projects, gorgeous pictures and an author with a fantastic blog- A Stitch in Dye.  I love that this one goes beyond quilt patterns to include a neck warmer, sewing machine cover, pillows, totes and lots of others.  Beautiful!

And while you're working on holiday gift lists, check out this adorable and handy wish list printable from allsorts!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Amy Butler Gum Drop Pillow

Here's another project that's been in the "almost done" phase for quite a while and I finally finished!

It's Amy Butler's Gum Drop Pillow, in the 24" size.  It was a cinch to make and really fun.  The hold up on finishing it was that it takes an INCREDIBLE amount of stuffing!  I probably could've gotten another bag in there and made it really nice and firm.  As it is it has a good amount of give and the girls love it for rolling, lounging and jumping.  The pattern calls for 10 bags of fiberfil- I'm not sure exactly how much I used because I had a few grocery bags full of remnants of other bags, some throw pillows that had torn that I'd saved the stuffing from, etc.  

The fabric was a clearance fabric shower curtain from Target-- Trolling those clearance end caps in the home furnishings department often pays off big time!  I get sheet sets for under $5, shower curtains for around $3... Just think of the yardage in a full size sheet set!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fat Quarterly Quiltalong

I am not a fan of UFOs.  And yet somehow they seem to be a necessary part of sewing, at least for me!  I joined the Fat Quarterly Quiltalong, got my blocks all cut and pieced, laid them out just right.... and then Halloween came along.  And now I'm getting mired in Christmas sewing.  And those poor little blocks still sit in a pile, waiting to become a quilt. It's extra frustrating because it's getting downright chilly here and I'd love to have this quilt all ready to curl up under with a cup of tea and a good book.  I thought the least I could do for these neglected squares was to share them in their current state.  Maybe I'll surprise myself and finish up the holiday sewing early and I'll get to work on a little Christmas gift to me!

 (See that orange spot on the carpet at the top left-- That's where we dropped the paint roller while painting the den.  Yep, we really like orange!  And we still haven't replaced the terrible terrible carpet.  Sigh.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spotted on Clearance at Joann

I can't imagine why the star-lettered sign on the right is on clearance.  Can you?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Grocery Bag Challenge

Have you heard about Sew, Mama, Sew's Green Grocery Bag Challenge?  The idea is to make some pretty bags, use them to wrap your holiday gifts, and they become a bonus gift!  The recipient can use them as grocery bags, totes, gym bags, whatever!  More and more stores are giving discounts for or even mandating using reusable bags.  American consumers generate 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bag waste during the holiday season alone, and we go through 100 billion single-use plastic grocery bags every year.  You can make a difference!

You can join in on Facebook or on their blog.  There will be free bag patterns, tutorials, videos and more.  What a great way to use up some stash fabric and help the Earth!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I-Spy Quilt!

It's finished!  I got most of these squares through a swap hosted by Care at Obsessively Stitching.  I had so much fun choosing my fabrics to send in, and then browsing what I got back from the other participants.  I've had the top finished for a while now, but finally got it quilted and bound this week.  I wanted to get this done in time for fall, so I opted to do a really basic patchwork rather than any of the other really cool things people have done with their squares.  You can see some of them at the Flickr group.  I hand quilted it at each seam with a rainbow of pearl cotton, and the backing is from a pale yellow sheet.  I plan on this being used as a picnic blanket, car entertainment, fort building material, and other hard-living stuff, so I went simple.  I'm really pleased with it, even if it is a "double espresso for your eyes" as another swapper's husband described hers!

I'm adding this to QuiltStory's Fabric Tuesday.  It's my first time participating, so if you found me through that link up, welcome!  Thanks for stopping by!

Fresh Poppy Design

Monday, November 8, 2010

Belly Button Pillow

As lots of us crafty types do, I like to give hand made gifts for the holidays.  I have a list as long as my arm of plans and ideas, but very little actual work done!  I also have a couple of swaps going on, and some sewing I'm doing for my local animal shelter.  On Friday night the girls went to bed easily, hubby fell asleep early so we weren't able to catch up on our DVR'd shows and suddenly I found myself with the whole night ahead of me to sew without interruption!  So what did I do?  I started a completely new project, unrelated to any of the sewing I "need" to work on! 

Here's the new project and I am SO in love with it!

The tutorial is from Alexandra at a-squared(w) and I stumbled upon it while doing research for the Pillow Talk {Swap}.  I dug through the scrap bins for fall colors, cut it out and had it together in no time!  I stuffed it and closed it while watching football on Sunday and now it's in its place on the couch.  I really love it!  I needed a fun project like this to get my sewing mojo back, so thank you Alexandra!

I'm adding this to Amy's "Sew and Tell" for this week!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A quilt for the new kid on the block

My husband's brother and his wife welcomed their second child just over a week ago, and he is ridiculously cute (if I do say so myself).  A sweet boy needs a sweet quilt, so of course I had to oblige!  He was kind enough to arrive a few days past his due date so I had time to get the quilt completely finished before he was born.

It's a stacked quilt with straight line quilting (my standby... someday I'll branch out!).  The darker blue fabric has little fishies on it, which matches his nursery theme.  I love that fabric and I've had it in my stash since long before I started sewing.  Yes, I was building a stash before I knew what to do with it.  I think that must be high on the list of symptoms of a true fabric addict, don't you?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

Have you heard of the Friday Night Sew-In?  Once a month, Heidi at Handmade by Heidi and Bobbi at Crafty Vegas Mom sponsor a night for YOU to commit to put on your comfy PJs, tune out the world, and focus on sewing, knitting, or any other crafting you want to focus on for a night.  Everyone shares what they worked on and get this- You can win prizes!  This is my first time playing, and I'm already brewing ideas of what I want to work on.  So what are you doing on November 19?  Join us, won't you?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Sweet Girl

Today is my daughter Lizzie's 3rd birthday.  Time flies when you're having fun, I can't believe she's three already.  She's sweet and hilariously funny and I am so lucky to be her mommy!

Born at home at 8:30am on her due date!  A very punctual gal.  Not sure where she got that trait...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Amy Butler's Reversible Everyday Shopper

Did you ever notice that when people post about meeting Amy Butler, they always comment on how tall she is?  Every year when all those lucky shop owners go to Quilt Market and share their wonderful pictures, there she is looking statuesque and glamorous.  So maybe that's why many of her bags are SO BIG!  I've made the Modern Diaper Bag and my 5 year old could sit inside!  I love this, because I like knowing the bags can take anything I throw at them.  So when I started cutting out the Reversible Everyday Shopper from the new Style Stitches book, I knew I was headed for another mega-bag.  Yes, I could have learned this by reading the measurements first, but doesn't that take away some of the fun?

This bag is destined to be a Christmas gift, but I won't say who it's for so it can still be a bit of a surprise!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival

This is my first entry in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I've followed along for the last few and all the entries are so inspiring! Since I'm still new to quilting, I'm going to share my very very first quilt, to remind myself how far I've come.

Here's the top:
And here it is "finished."

 The fabrics came from a charm square swap I did with friends- This was very early in my stash-building days!  In fact, I think this was one of the first ten things I ever sewed.  I used the "Make It Up As You Go Quilt" tutorial at You Can Make This.  It was super easy to follow and I was so happy with the top (still am!).    But then I kind of fell apart with the quilting and binding.  I used pre-made binding and I'm pretty sure I used it incorrectly.  I didn't baste nearly enough, so the quilting process was frustrating and I stopped with it very minimally quilted.  But I was still so proud, my girls love it, and one of these days I'll take off the yucky binding and do a proper one!  For now this one lives in the car where it's the perfect size for Allison to cuddle under on chilly morning drives to school.

Thanks for stopping by, be sure to check out the other (vastly more skillfully made!) entries in the Blogger's Quilt Festival by clicking here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our Halloween Costumes!!!

I am so proud of the girls' Halloween costumes this year.  Allison was Astrid from "How to Train Your Dragon" and Lizzie was a dragon!  (Great movie!  Have you seen it?)

I probably should have made Lizzie's costume one size bigger, but for the few hours she wore it, it was fine.  She was in love with the sparkly blue fabric I found, and I think it looks like scales.  I was a little worried about using such a dark fabric again (after last year's poorly planned black cat costume- a little tough for drivers to see in the dark), but the sparkles made it reflective, so it worked out.  The pattern is Simplicity 2506.



Allison was so thrilled with her costume, and I actually got a huge hug and a "Thank you, Mom" when I gave her the last piece- the headband- so that made all the work worth it.  The top is adapted from the ModKid Nina pattern and I used the basic A-line skirt directions from Sew What Skirts.  I had a ton of fun with those spikes, and I find myself thinking of other ways to use screw-on embellishments!  They came from StudsandSpikes.com.