Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A pair of quilts

Ugh, I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is next week. Is anyone else wondering what the heck happened to fall? I've had so much going on, I feel like I might've fast-forwarded a few weeks. Every year it seems like there's a headlong rush into the holidays. I'm actually already looking forward to the post-holiday boredom of January and February! So sad.

I have a ton of gift sewing/knitting to do, but before I could start on that, there was the little matter of my pregnant friend. Having twins. As in two babies to sew for! The last time I had talked to her, she said that they were thinking the middle of November. And I had sorta, kinda been working on the gifts with the 15th in mind. Then she sent me a message saying she was being induced - a week early! So sewing kicked into high gear. The girls arrived before their quilts, but I don't think they mind.

I wanted both of the girls to have their own quilt. And I wanted them to relate to each other but not be identical. I really liked the Perfect Prism pattern on Stitchery Dickory Dock, which uses HSTs, so I thought I'd use them for both. I also decided to use ash gray as my background fabric on both, to make the colors really stand out.

I used Kate Spain's "Good Fortune" line for this quilt - very flowery, but not super girly.

For this quilt, I didn't have a pattern, but I had pinned something similar that I really loved and thought I'd give it a try. I call it a "Broken Chevron" pattern and I think it turned out great. I love chevrons, but they are trendy and I didn't really want trendy. I think this changes it up just enough to avoid it. The fabric is "Birds and Berries" by Lauren and Jessi Jung.

Action shot! A little peek of the backing, courtesy of that annoying wind. My friend is a purple kind of girl, and since this quilt didn't have much on the front, I thought I'd cover the back with it!

Since the quilts were finished after the girls were born, I thought about embroidering their names or initials on the quilts. But while they have beautiful names, I just didn't like the way my letters were coming out. So I kept it simple with the year. I also figured this way mom could decide which quilt matched which little lady better...

And now they're on their way to be with their new family. Awww.

One of these days it'll be sunny when I need to take pictures!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Scrappy pillow

I'm working on some baby gifts for a shower tomorrow, some of which are sitting in a dye bath as I type. Hopefully I will get it together this weekend to show you what I've made, because the pattern I'm using for part of the gift is Fabulous with a capital F. It is especially good if you're still a little shaky sewing knit fabric...

In the meantime, I wanted to show off a little pillow I sewed up this week. Since I built the entryway bench, I've been wanting to make a few pillows for the top of it, just to add some color to that wood-and-gray corner. I have been reeeeeeally trying to use materials I have in the house, because goodness knows I have enough STUFF, I don't need anymore. Though I really want more. But anyway. I decided to try and delve into my scrap bin for these pillows. I think the first one came out pretty well.

I haven't done a whole lot of triangles, except for that still-disappointed-in Anna Maria Horner quilt, but I love the way they look scrappy. My scrap bin definitely proves that I skew to greens and blues, with some yellow thrown in.

In the spirit of using what I have, I pieced together an envelope-style back, which is my favorite method of pillow-making. When you have dogs and a little boy, you've got to be able to wash everything. In hindsight, I probably should have reversed the solid and pattern pieces, so the flap wasn't so noticeable. I like it anyway.

Alright, back to my dye baths!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Christmas knitting and a new hobby

The plague on this house has finally lifted and not a minute too soon. Two weeks of sick boy, sick mom is just no fun. I'm hoping we got all of the bugs out of our systems for awhile, cause I've got some major Christmas sewing and knitting to get to!

I suppose one good thing about being sick - or taking care of a sick kid - is lots of couch-sitting time. Which means lots of knitting time. I've been working on this Dark and Stormy pattern for someone special and while it's slow going (and I had about 10 minutes of panic when I thought I was going to have to rip back several inches), I really love how it's turning out. The yarn, KnitPicks Comfy Worsted in Hawk, is not my first choice for this pattern, but the recipient will appreciate the non-wool-ness of it. And it does have nice cable definition and is very soft.

I haven't been completely immobile on the couch for those couple of weeks. In fact, I picked up a whole new hobby (like I needed another one) - woodworking! I finally got tired of hubby saying "Why should we buy that when I can build an even better one myself, for much cheaper?!" and then never having the time to actually follow through. So, last weekend I asked him to show me how to use all of his "manly" tools and built myself this cute little bench.

I used the Spa Bench plans from This is a great site for beginning woodworkers, with tons of free plans - most are homemade versions of furniture found in higher-end stores. I had been looking for a bench like this to go here, mainly because we really don't have an entryway and I wanted somewhere you could sit down and take your shoes off. My main goal is to build a new dining room table (which is currently in the works!), but I figured I should probably start with something a little more...manageable. I learned quite a bit on this little bench, but the design was such that you really can't see any of the mistakes.

I'm already working on some cute scrappy pillows to sit on it - like I need another project!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In threes and out to sea

The kind of weird thing about having a blog is that you're not really sure if anyone's reading it - but they *might* be, so you just kind of have to assume they are. Especially when it comes to gifts. I've actually been sewing quite a bit recently, but everything has been gift sewing. I'm not sure the intended recipients actually look at my little ol' blog, but just in case they do, I've got to keep some stuff under wraps, until they have it in their hands. Fortunately last week I was able to go to my parents' house and spend time with my SIL and niece over my niece's birthday. Besides having a great time (especially since my son and niece mainly kept each other occupied), I was finally able to give her the gifts I've been working on:

Isn't this a cute outfit? I was actually only planning on knitting the sweater for her, but I decided she needed a whole outfit.

The pattern for the sweater is In Threes by Kelly Herdrich, which you can find here if you are on Ravelry. I used Knit Picks Swish Worsted in the Lotus colorway, because I knew it would need to be washable, and the color is soooo my niece.

This is a wonderful pattern for little girls, I think, just the right amount of detail and I enjoyed knitting it. Kids sweaters go so fast, and I'm nothing if not an impatient knitter. I love the buttons, but I'm afraid they're a little too small and will keep popping out of the buttonholes, but my SIL has the skillz (with a z) to fix it if she needs to.

The dress is the Music Box Jumper pattern from oliver and s, which you can find here. The pattern is one of their easiest ones, ranked one "scissor", but I have to admit I psyched myself out a bit having read a bunch of blog posts with complaints of difficulty. The pattern came together in an afternoon, was easy as pie. I decided to try out a few new techniques since it was going so well, including French seams. I attempted a blind hem, but it didn't really work out because of the special placket used in the pattern. The fabric is Anchors Away in navy from the out to Sea collection by Sarah Jane. The whole line is beautiful and the fabric itself feels especially wonderful, has a nicer drape than typical quilting cotton. I am trying to avoid buying the whole line, but I think I might fail in that.

I bought the buttons on the back at an antique store in town. That is by far the best place to find buttons - they're so cheap! Much better quality than what you could buy in a store. I used the buttonhole and button functions on my new machine - couldn't be easier!

I was able to see the sweater on my niece while we were there and it was adorable - of course, she's pretty adorable too, so that helps! I tried to get a picture of her in it, but you know how 3 year olds can be...

Now I have to find some other girls to make dresses for!

Friday, September 14, 2012


I finally got some sewing done for myself! And now I'm not so sure I can stop...

When I first saw the Washi Dress pattern by Made by Rae, I knew I wanted to give it a try. It looked so cute on Rae, and it had so many options for customization. I bought it right away. Like, the-day-it-came-out right away. At first I couldn't decide if I wanted to make the tunic, to try the pattern out with less fabric commitment, or the dress, but I decided to go all out and do the dress. I picked up 3 1/2 yards of Dear Stella Maasai Mara in gray and was all ready to go. And then it sat while I did some "obligation" sewing. The other day I just couldn't wait any longer and dove right in.

I was nervous from the start about the fit. Looking at the Flickr pool of dresses and tunics other people had done, I noticed that none of the other sewers were quite as, well, ample in the chest area (D) as I am. But I really wanted it to work, so I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl.

This pattern was a dream to sew. It was so fast, I literally sewed it in a day, after I decided on fit. The fit was definitely the hardest part. By chest measurement, I fell in between the XL and XXL. I started out with an XL muslin - definitely not big enough for the ladies. I then decided that I was going to attempt a Full Bust Adjustment (doesn't that sound awesome? It's not.) I looked at the links on Rae's Washi page and gave it a shot, but I don't think I understood exactly what was going on. That muslin did not turn out well. I finally just bit the bullet and made an XXL muslin. The bust fit well, but everything else was just a little big. I decided to go for it anyway, knowing I could belt the waist.


I think it turned out pretty well! I made the XXL with no bust adjusments. I was a little worried that the skirt would be way too full in that size, so I actually followed the tunic line instead to make the skirt a little more narrow. I did the little U collar and the cute little sleeves, though the dress looked just as cute without them. I left the pockets off, as I was worried they would be too bulky with the more narrow skirt, but when I wear the dress, I feel like I want to put my hands in some pockets. I will definitely put them on the next one.

I wish I could have gotten a good picture of the back, I love the shirring! That was the other part I was worried about but it couldn't have been easier. I feel like I want to use elastic thread on everything I make now!

I can't wait to try another version - especially because I am determined to master the FBA. The darts on the bodice make the fit of this so nice, but being able to do the FBA, I think, would make it a perfect fit. It's so hard to find dresses and fitted shirts off the rack that actually fit the girls, I would love to be able to make them. I did buy some fabric with the tunic in mind, so that'll be my next project. Like everyone else who has tried this pattern, I want to make a whole wardrobe of these!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking care of business

I was really excited about getting my fabric and sewing up my new curtains. When the ginormous, 26 lb package showed up on my front step last week, I was pretty psyched. I pulled the two rolls with 12 yards each out of the plastic and thought, "Huh. What am I going to do with this?" I mean, 24 yards of 5 foot wide fabric is a lot to deal with! The first thing I wanted to do was make sure that I actually liked the fabric. Since I'm using those clippy ring things to hang the curtains anyway, I just laid the roll at the bottom of the window and pulled the fabric up until I could clip it onto the rod. I l-o-v-e-d the pattern I picked out for the living room, but the dining room? Not so much. Sigh. And I got a swatch and everything! It just goes to show that a little 6" square of fabric is not really a good representation of how the pattern will look on 12 yards. I tried to like it, I really did, but in the end it was just a little too 70s for my taste. Luckily, has a fabulous return policy, so I just called them up and they had UPS email me a free return label. I just have to go drop off the giant package tomorrow. I think for now I'll hold off on the dining room curtains until I get a little more going decor-wise in there.

So I did finally sew up my living room curtains and they look fantastic - except for the fact that they are all different lengths, but at this point I don't really care because they all end behind furniture. Maybe one day when I finally get the furniture I actually want in there I'll fix them, but for now we'll call it good. That much fabric is such a pain to deal with, I just wanted them done. I really had to make myself sit down and finish them, too. I've come to realize that while I love homemade curtains in theory - cheaper, higher quality, and unlikely to find in a friend's house - I really don't actually like to sew them. Well, I probably only have to make 6 more panels for the house. Bleh.

Besides the curtains, I did get some other house related stuff done. The stairs have really been bugging me since we moved in, and while they are still not the wooden stairs of my dreams, I think I spiffed 'em up a bit.

I finally got the stair trim painted white and decided I wanted the balusters to be white as well. The whole thing was actually very pretty stain and it hurt my heart a little to paint over it, but I really like the way it looks now against the gray wall. I sweet-talked hubby into painting the hall up the stairs this past weekend, which was no small feat and required a sort of self-made catwalk to reach the top of the wall. There's that pesky roll of unwanted fabric in the picture there. Just to remind me of my error in judgement. And you may notice the door - remember the dark brown monstrosity of a front door? Several coats later - much brighter! I'm not sure why its practically neon in this picture, but in real life it is a nice mellow bright blue. Is there such a thing? Here are a couple of (possibly blurry) befores:

Not bad, I think! It's coming along and inching closer to what I envision in my head.

I did finish my little baby gift project, but of course in my rush to get it out the door I forgot to take pictures. It was cute, too. I am working on another project that I promise to get pictures of, but since it's a gift, not yet! I am really trying to get some stuff finished so I can start my Washi dress for me!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello my Janome, how I've missed you!

Hooray! I couldn't take it any longer! My "sewing room" is still basically just a depository for all things that haven't found a home yet, so I finally just plopped my machine down on the coffee table and got to business. The first night, I pulled out my vintage sheet charm packs and sewed half square triangles for a couple hours. felt so good. I'm waiting for a couple of fabrics I ordered and then I will have lots of piecing to do, which seems to be the easiest kind of sewing to do hunched over a coffee table. I did finally get my curtain swatches in the mail from, so I had some decision making to do.

These chevrons were cute, but not quite what I was going for in the living and dining rooms. The colors were nice and subtle, but they're just a little too...trendy.

These dandelions are adorable in small doses, but I'm not sure I'd be happy with 12 yards of them surrounding my windows.

These fabrics I love. In every colorway. I decided the blue one on the right would be perfect in the living room. And I might have taken the swatch to the paint store to match a front door color.

I like the geometry and color of the swatch on the left, but I think it would be way too busy in larger quantities. The one on the right, on the other hand, has a beautiful and bold large scale pattern with the perfect blue color. I chose this one for the dining room. I think it'll look nice against the dark gray walls, brighten the room a bit. And it happens to look pretty good with the new front door color.

Besides the swatches, I decided to go ahead and just order the fabric for Jack's bedroom curtains. I was kind of taking a chance, but it payed off. I love the way they look. I mean, really love them. I think they brighten the whole room.

Since his room only has one little window, I definitely wanted something bright and bold. In person these are bright green - which looks great against his light gray walls. And while chevrons are too trendy for downstairs, I think they're perfect for Jack's room. Seriously, they add so much to the room and I literally smile every time I walk past. Combined with the white faux wood blinds we hung up, they look perfect. Yay!

The fabric is supposed to be in this week, so my sewing machine will get another work out this weekend and hopefully I'll have more pictures to share. I've also been working on some baby gifts that'll be done soon and I'm going to do some "selfish" sewing too - some clothes for me! It's amazing how much better I feel now that I'm sewing again!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sooo close to sewing!

Well, no sewing to show yet. But its coming, I can feel it in my fingers. They're just itching to dig out my baby and sew something, anything. I have two projects lined up - one is waiting on fabric, the other is ready to go, I just have to get some motivation. You see, my little boy has been doing pretty well with the potty training, but since he is in pull-up style diapers, he always kind of has a safety net. And let's face it, so does Mommy. As in, "You have to go potty? We are in a public place with yucky bathrooms. Just go in your diaper." Yes, I've said that. Not great for the potty training, is it? I've been thinking about going cold turkey to "big boy underwear" but I'm not quite sure I'm ready for that level of commitment yet. As I was surfing on Pinterest the other day, I found this link:

It's a tutorial for making regular training pants just a liiiiiittle more substantial and waterproof. Perfect! Less messy, but still a more "real underwear" feel. I had already picked up a couple packs of the Gerber training pants and I happily discovered the last time I was up at the local Jo-Ann's that they carry a full compliment of cloth diaper making supplies, including the PUL needed for this project. So I slogged up there this weekend and got me some, as well as some flannel. Now I just have to sit down and do it already! I am trying to force myself to do it by not buying anymore pull-up diapers, and the supply is dwindling - better get to it!

I have also, of course, been working on the house, mainly painting the trim. I can get an entire window done, with three coats, during nap time, so I've just been doing one window a day. I have finally gotten all of the windows painted on the first floor at least, and it makes a huge difference. See?

So much brighter, it's amazing. This room wasn't horrible, because the trim was actually a pretty wood stain, but the rooms where the trim was beige, its incredible the difference it makes! I haven't started the baseboards yet, because I have to go around and fill all of the nail holes, but just having these windows painted makes me happy. They of course need some "treatments" (isn't that a funny phrase? What are you treating them for?) -- which I have already started. I ordered some cordless bamboo shades from and had the hubby hang them this weekend, as well as curtain rods I picked up at Lowe's.

Not the best pictures, but you get the idea. I'm doing the old "hang 'em high and wide" trick to make the windows look bigger, and I love how it looks! Those are not the curtains that will stay there, though they are pretty. Just a little too heavy and shiny for me. Which leads me to my second project -- curtains! I literally looked in 10 different stores trying to find curtains I liked. Not only did I not find any remotely close to what I wanted, but even if I did they would be too short for my purposes. So of course I've decided to make my own! I picked out a bunch of fabric swatches from, since I didn't want to order that much fabric without laying eyes on it first. I also ordered 27 yards (gasp!) at $2.00/yd (phew!)of sheer fabric for hanging inside the "regular" curtains. I'm not sure when I'll get it, since the company is in the middle of a move, but hopefully soon. I'm dying to finish the windows and seeing the empty rods up there is killing me! I will have to make up the sheers right away just to put something up. I ordered some green chevron fabric for Jack's room, too, and we picked up some white faux wood blinds for his one little dinky window tonight at Lowe's, so maybe his window will get finished first...

See, DIY home renovation + sewing! Even though there hasn't actually been any sewing done. Yet.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Moved in

A month! I can't believe a month has gone by since we left on vacation. So much has happened between then and now, its crazy. Vacation was fun, but as soon as we got back the whirlwind known as the "new house" hit. We spent three days painting as much as we possibly could, then Friday we closed! Woohoo! It was a bit of a nail-biter, but it worked out in the end. And after an epic weekend moving all of our worldly belongings using two pickups and a trailer in about 40 trips, we now officially live in the house.

Now I know I meant this blog to mainly be about sewing and knitting and other crafty endeavors, but frankly there's going to be a lot of DIY home renovation going on here. And until I get some of these boxes empty, there's going to be less sewing. Until I freak out about Christmas gifts. But that's another story.

So a little intro to the new digs. The house is a pretty basic 2 story colonial style built in the late 80s. A little on the boring side. But it sits on a large corner lot in a great neighborhood. It's close to "town" without actually being "in town" and most importantly, its in the good school district. We also got a great deal on it, which is pretty important since we still own our last house in New Mexico. And its a good thing we got a good price, cause this place needs a lot of updating. But it does have "good bones" as they say.

First of all, the whole first floor had baseboard heaters that were disconnected, so off they came, along with their thermostats. The people here before us must have hung tons of pictures, because we spent almost a whole day patching and priming holes.

There's also some major country 80s wallpaper in a few rooms that must. come. down. I managed to get it off of the half bath walls (revealing some crazy brown stenciling underneath) but that was so frustrating, I think the rest of the wallpaper will wait until I forget just how frustrating. Some more views:

This front room was actually redone by the previous owners. It wasn't bad, just not my style. The walls look grayish in these pictures, but in reality they were a purple-y blue.

As you can see in some of the pictures, the trim, windows and doors have all been painted a yucky beige color. All of the light and outlet plates are old, dirty and beige too. More stuff to fix.

It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can accomplish, though.

The transition between the two room colors gave me a bit of  trouble. I painted a little racing stripe where the two meet - it'll do for now, until I come up with a better solution.

The carpet is pretty bad, even after we had it cleaned, but we have grand plans to replace the entire first floor with wood. For now, we've laid down some rugs. We painted my son's room, too, mainly because it was royal blue and kelly green, but for now we're focusing on the first floor.

And that's it! I have a couple of sewing projects in mind for next week, so hopefully there will be more sewing stuff next time around...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Speed Sewing

It's beach time! Woohoo! Friday I'll be driving 12 hours, that's right, 12 hours to Oak Island, NC with my 2 1/2 year old son to spend 10 days at the beach with my parents. Did I mention I'll be in the car, alone with a toddler for 12 hours? Oy. I'm not sure how that's gonna go, I'm a bit nervous but I'm hoping for the best. When I get nervous, I do frenzied last minute sewing. While at Joann's last week, I found some great lightweight shirting fabric on sale and decided Jack needed a "beach" shirt. I started looking around online for a good pattern, when I remembered that I had this book:

Unfortunately, we've been packing up the house for the big move and the books are already in boxes. After opening up a few boxes, I dug it out and found the Easy Linen Shirt - exactly what I had been picturing. This is what I came up with:

It fits perfectly, a little bit big for growing into, but he's not swimming in it. Yay! While I was sewing this, I was flipping through the book and found a pattern for the "To Go Artist" and decided this would be perfect for the looooooong trip down. So I dipped into the fabric stash for my "Outside Oslo" canvas and whipped one up.

I love how this turned out - I wasn't convinced at first. But after finding a sketch pad at Target that fit into it p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y and setting it in front of Jack, I'm a convert. He drew in it for over half an hour! That's forever in toddler time. And long enough for me to finish this:


I've been wanting to make Jack a Toddler Backback from the Made By Rae pattern, like this one. I was eyeing the Happy Drawing fabric line from Cloud9 and the Dragons fabric especially was  calling me. Not only is it a bit of an inside joke (don't wake the dragon!) but if Jack eventually goes to the local high school, their mascot is the Green Dragons! Pretty perfect, right? I needed a zipper and some piping, and luckily my local Walmart actually had the almost exact shade of green - which I found in the clearance bin. It was fate. Now Jack can shove whatever he wants to take with us in there and carry his own stuff!

And as if all of this wasn't enough, I made up this little blanket and a couple of burp cloths for a friend about to have her second baby. They aren't finding out the sex, so I tried to be a bit gender neutral. Her husband is a French professor - believe me, I quadruple checked the accent marks on the hand embroidery!

Not bad for 8 days work, eh?