Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all my crafty pals out there on the Interwebs! Isn't this such an appropriate pic for the season? It's my entry for Lisa's U-Handblog Extreme Sewing Contest. I'm sitting amidst our big outdoor Christmas decoration. It is a 27-foot pole strung with strings of green and white lights to form a tree shape and decorated with blow-mold lawn ornaments. Sadly, I didn't know about this contest when we had the scaffolding out to set up the tree or I would have had a much more extreme entry!

I hope you all have a lovely holiday season and see you next year!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Hand is Back!

First: thank you so much for all your kind words about my hand - your thoughts meant a lot to me!

Second: my hand is all better! I had a wonderful plastic surgeon who performed the grafts on my hand and I have full mobility back! And while getting work done on my hand isn't what my vanity would have picked as a project for a plastic surgeon, I can do all the things I used to - like type quickly and sew and spin. And even cook (SAFELY) with hot oil. My hand will never look exactly the same but now I have some Rorschach Test shapes across my knuckles to keep me amused.

It's been lovely to get back to sewing. My pal, Alizah, had her jewelry show this weekend and I sneaked some wares onto her coffee table. For the show I made up some Notepad Portfolios that tickle me immensely.

I'm old-school and like to make lists on paper. My coat pocket is perpetually filled with dog-eared lists and reminders. Now I can keep all the clutter in a cute portfolio!

The interior has one big pocket, 2 credit card sized pockets and a pen pocket. A regular 8" x 5" note-pad slips in on the right side. My crafty mom sent me some padding compound a few months ago and I'm going to make some custom note-pads for menu planning and grocery shopping. The Portfolios that didn't sell this weekend have been reserved for Christmas gifts, but I hope make some more and have them in my shop in the near future. But I can't think of a cute name for them. Any ideas?

Again, thank you for all your kind words and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Channelling Nicholas Cage

That's what I've been doing lately - channelling a very specific moment in Nic Cage's oeuvre. And while it would be hilarious to be him in Valley Girl or Raising Arizona, the specific moment I'm thinking of is this:

It's Ronny in Moonstruck, yelling, "I LOST MY HAND!!"

[Here is the clip if you want to see Nic in action. I wish I were a better blogger and knew how to embed videos]

A few weeks ago I had a small accident in my kitchen and spilled very hot oil across my right hand. I ended up with 3rd degree burns, a heavily bandaged hand, and a big scorch mark on my kitchen floor. Along with the myriad other things I've been unable to do, I haven't been able to sew, spin or knit for almost a month. It's been so sad.

But things are looking up! I'm scheduled for a skin graft tomorrow which should help my hand's mobility and I'm hoping to get back to my crafting in the near future.

My friends and family have been terrifically supportive and helpful through all of this. The kidlings have done a great job picking up the slack. They also made me puppets to put over my bandaged paw:

They made puppets for my different moods - this one is "Silly." Although "Tired and Grumpy" seems to have been permanently attached to my face lately, I'm putting in a request for a "Relieved and Expectant" puppet now that recovery is in sight.

I think I have to go rent "Moonstruck" to watch while I'm healing...

Monday, June 01, 2009

Giveaway Day Winner!

Thank you to everyone (all 461 of you!) for entering my giveaway! Without further ado, the winning comment number is:

Cindy who said,

"I was Smurfette one year, way back, when the Smurfs were popular. It was a lot of fun."

And, again, thank you so much to everyone who participated. Reading about your costumes made me laugh and cry. So many of you have such happy memories of your mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers or grandparents making costumes for you. And I relished hearing about all the costumes you've made for your own children or siblings. Thank you so much for sharing them with me!

And thanks again to Sew, Mama Sew! for organizing another excellent Giveaway Day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Giveaway Day - Quilting Kit

Happy Giveaway Day!

For Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day, I put together this little Quilting Kit:

It includes:

*Scraps from about 50 different fabrics

*2 spools of 100% cotton hand quilting thread

*A measuring tape

*10 quilting needles (Size 10 betweens) in a wooden holder

*An off-hand thimble

*A 12 inch by 14 inch project bag I made with a thrifted sheet, using Betz White's Tutorial

Here's a better view of some of the fabrics. These were culled from my frightfully large scrap box. The scraps range in size from 4 inches by 4 inches up to 10 inches by 26 inches. Most are 100% cotton and most have not been pre-washed.

So how can you win this cute bag of goodies? By leaving a comment answering the following question:

"What was your favorite Halloween costume?"
(It can be a costume you wore or one you made for someone else)
Edited to add: I apologize to international folks for forgetting Halloween is not a world-wide holiday. Just leave a comment about any costume you've enjoyed!)

And what does this have to do with quilting? Sorting my scraps reminded me of a costume my very crafty mom made for me: The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Much to my dismay, none of my classmates knew of this obscure character and assumed I was Raggedy Ann. My mom, being the cool mom that she is, probably foresaw this possibility but still indulged me and put in a lot of effort to make me a costume no one would recognize. Thanks, Mommy!

On June 1, I will select a winner at random from all the comments telling me about a costume left between May 27 and May31. I will also pay for shipping charges (either domestic or international).

Thanks very much to Sew, Mama, Sew for organizing this and be sure to go check out all the other participants here and here!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tutorial: Hemming Cloth Napkins

Last month, I sewed up several sets of cloth napkins for my oldest daughter's "Green Team" Earth Day Fair.

The napkins were a fast and easy way to reduce my fabric stash, so I thought I'd share this tutorial with other fabric addicts to help reduce both their stash and their trash! These napkins are cute and casual with tidy mitered corners. There are lots of other good napkin tutorial out there. I adapted techniques from this tutorial to make my napkins.


*Prewashed cotton fabric
*Clear ruler
*Water soluble fabric marker
*Awl or seam ripper
*Rotary cutter

Not pictured
*Cutting Mat
*Rotary Cutting Ruler
*Sewing Machine
*Thread to match (or contrast, if you're so inclined) your napkins


The napkin pictured above is a 12 inch square. This technique uses a 1/2 inch hem allowance so my finished napkin is an 11 inch square. Feel free to change your dimensions as dictated by your napkin needs. I recommend using a rotary cutter, but scissors will due in a pinch.


Using the water soluble fabric pen and the clear ruler, mark a line 1/2 inch in from the edge. Repeat on all sides of the napkin.


To reduce bulk when you miter the corners, clip the corners using the marks you just made as the start and ending points of your cut.


Carefully fold the edge of the fabric up to the marked line and press with a hot iron. Repeat on all sides.


Now it's time for the fun part: mitering the corners.

At one corner, open up the fold on Side B.

Carefully fold Side A along the marked line, enclosing the raw edge.

Fold the corner down, lining up the folded edge from Side A with the marked line on Side B. I found my awl very helpful for the following maneuvers because I've got chunky fingers. If you don't have an awl, a seam ripper works well, too.

Refold Side B to the marked line, making sure to keep your corner folds tidy. Again, I would have been lost without my awl to help with this.

Finally, fold Side B along the marked line, enclosing the raw edge. Isn't that a pretty miter?

Pin the miter in place.


Continue around the napkin, mitering the corners and folding along the marked line to finish the hem. I like to press the hem again after the final fold, although if I'm in a slap-dash mood, I'll just pin the final hem in place. You can also try pressing both hem folds before mitering the corners. It didn't work out so well for me because the extra folds interfered with my miters but you may have much more nimble fingers than I do and end up with great results.


Starting in the middle of a side, begin top-stitching the hem. I stitch about 1/8 inch from the fold.


Keeping the miter in place while sewing it is a bit fiddly.

Hopefully you can see how I use my awl to keep the miter in place while it moves closer to the sewing machine needle.

Sew until your needle makes its first entry into the miter. Leave the needle in the fabric and pivot the napkin.

Here's my awl, again. This time it's gently pushing the fabric under the presser foot until there is enough fabric for the feed dogs to do their job. Be very careful, though, to keep your awl or seam ripper away from your sewing machine needle. My awl strayed too close once and the sewing machine needle shattered. (Stray bits of needle can really spoil a nice spaghetti dinner.)

Here's what the miter looks like from the back.

And here it is from the front.

Continue sewing around the napkin until you reach the beginning of your stitching, make a few back stitches, clip your threads and you're done!

Here are some of the sets I made for the Earth Day Fair:

And here is the pledge my daughter wrote for her Green Team:

I promise now,
I make my pledge,
To turn off lights
And do what's right.
We encourage now
The human race
To make the world
A better place.

Let me know if this tutorial worked for you or if you have any questions. And Happy Belated Earth Day!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Crocuses and Cuteness

On those abysmally rare occasions when I'm weeding my yard, I love the thrill of finding a little crocus peeking out of a forgotten corner. Well, I found some little crafting crocuses in the corner of my notions box and I had some very cute, albeit slightly wonky, results!

But first, I have to show you cutest pin cushion ever:

It arrived unannounced in my mailbox a while back. The lovely Liz, of madeinlowell, makes these pin cushions as well as a multitude of other amazing wares. Thank you so much, Liz!!

Back to my metaphorical crocuses. First I found some metal purse frames that I bought months and month ago and promptly forgot about. I made this little clutch for my pal, Alizah:

I used Lisa Lam's most excellent tutorial to make the pattern and attach the frame.

Lisa's tutorial is terrific, but I discovered that I'm seriously adhesive impaired. I felt like I was in a Marx Brothers movie with glue and paper and bits of thread sticking to me, all the while yelling at the glue to behave. But I eventually got it together and I think Alizah likes it!

I also found some bobby pin blanks and cover-your-own-buttons and made these bobby pins with scraps from my gargantuan scrap box:

I sold most of them a Alizah's trunk show. They were such a hit that I think I'll make more.

I've also been flirting with Twitter, lately. I have yet to tweet but I love reading other people's posts. Do you have any Follow suggestions or Twitter tips or hints? I'm still flummoxed by hashes and @s and the like. I added a Twitter button over there on the side bar which I hope works...

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 06, 2009

"The Envelope, Please"

I love award shows with all of the pomp and statuettes and really big envelopes (and accountants in tuxes guarding those big envelopes). And yet, I missed the Oscars this year. Again. Since I've had kids, though, I've managed to miss most of the nominated movies every year and am not emotionally invested in the outcome. [Note: I am always emotionally invested in Oscar Fashions and find Go Fug Yourself to be invaluable for my Red Carpet fix.]

But, really, all this envelope talk is just my goofball way of introducing my Envelope Wallets:

I'd gotten a few requests for a wallet larger than my 3 Pocket Flip Wallets but smaller than my Passport Wallets. "Easy Peasy!" I thought. Well, countless prototypes later, I finally came up with a design I like.

It's really just a mash-up of my other wallets but I had the hardest time wrapping my head around the design. I also had fits about which interfacing to use. My final design ended up using 3 different weights. The one pictured above uses a sheet I got at the thrift store. Yay, upcycling! I think I'm going to try using more upcycled fabrics.

These three are now listed in my shop and I hope to make some more in the near future.

I've also gotten some questions about the pattern for this wallet. I've been thinking of self publishing some of my any of you know how to go about this?

ps Sometimes I practice an Oscar acceptance speech in my head...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crafty Badger

One of the best Christmas gifts at our house last year was the game, Crafty Badger. My husband and the oldest kidling bought it for the youngest kidling and it's our new favorite game:

It's made by the German toy company, Haba, and I'm in love with the metal suitcases and the cheeky wooden Badger. The game involves packing for a trip in the midst of reoccurring badger attacks, wherein said badger dumps out a suitcase at your feet and you have to repack the clothes. A rather surreal scenario, I must admit, unless sneaky badger attacks on unattended luggage is common in Germany. But we all love yelling "BADGER!!" when the little badger face turns up on the die. And, again, those little metal suitcases are the cutest!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

I made Valentines this year for the first time in a long while! They are little felt heart pins and I think they turned out quite cute, if I say so myself.

The pins came about through a harmonic convergence of the perfect project and materials I already had on hand. I got a lovely stack of felt squares via Jenn's blog a long time ago. The squares sat sadly in my craft closet until I found Purl Bee's Valentine Pin Tutorial. The project was fun, fast and easy. I also got to spend some quality time with my pinking shears (which as a serious sewist, I'm embarrassed to admit I've never used).

I mounted each pin on a little card and sent them off to some of the special women in my life - family, friends, the kidlings' teachers and some of my crafty heroines. I even managed to save one for myself.

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day!!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Passport Wallet Instructions

Happy New Year!

While I have some pics and musings to share about my holiday, on the top of my Big List of Things to Accomplish This Year is making available the instructions to the Adorn Magazine Passport Wallet I designed a while ago. Sadly, Adorn folded sometime last year, so the instructions are no longer available. I've gotten several inquiries about the instructions and I finally typed up them up.

And here they are:

Passport Wallet Instructions (PDF)

UPDATE (February 21, 2010)

The Adorn site has finally closed down and I fortunately have a copy of the pattern piece templates (many thanks to my husband for helping me figure that out!). I have also updated the link in the sidebar if you'd like to use that one instead. Here are pattern pieces:

Passport Wallet Pattern Templates (PDF)

The instructions are a very basic PDF document with no graphics or photographs (concepts way beyond my ken). I modified the instructions I wrote for the magazine, so hopefully they are clear and easy to follow. Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about the instructions and I'll do my best to help you out.

Converting a document to a PDF and figuring out where to store it was all new to me, so I went to my bag-making/craft business guru, Lisa, at U-handblog and CraftBoom and she, of course, had all the information I needed.

Whew! I'm glad to have that checked off my Big List! And because I always like blog posts with pictures, here's one my favorite passport wallets I made last year: