Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am honestly so very grateful for piles and piles of things this Thanksgiving day. I have a healthy, happy family. We have good jobs, a roof over our head that I constantly redecorate, and food (albeit uninspired) on the table each day. I am so very lucky to have good friends, and feel blessed that I've been able to spend time on my crafty endeavors - whether it be actually doing projects, or simply being inspired by all the creativity I find out in blog land. All this said, I'm particularly grateful today that I am not hosting or traveling far for Thanksgiving. Extremely bad form, I know, to show how selfish and sloth-ish I am today, but I am still in my jammies and sipping coffee at 11 o'clock today. Bliss. We are heading to Dave's sister's house later today... just across town. Since I was feeling so giddy to not have to do any of the hard work this year, I did make a hostess gift for Jody. I feel confident (and guilty) that she'll be too busy this morning to see this post, in the odd chance she were to visit the blog, so I'll show you all the apron I made her. Here it is...

This is from the A is for Apron book. In the book, this pattern is called "Kaleidoscope", and the pin tucks and contrasting fabrics are what really drew me to it. I made one of these a while back for a swap, so this one came together pretty quick. My only issue was that copied pattern from the copy shop was not quite right - I'm guessing the measurements were a bit off - specifically the trim was not long enough. I just traced the bottom of the main apron pattern itself,measured up 3" or so, and made the trim that way.

The pin tucks on the obi belt are not hard, just a bit tedious, but they really add a fun element to the apron. It is made to be worn up high on the waist, so that you stay clean while leaning into counters or tables.

The ties have 2 vintage buttons each on the ends. I deliberately mismatched all 4 of them. I went to my favorite "go to" fabric combination (surprise) - Zazu by Tina Givens. Love these 2 together... and they seemed fall-esque, thus appropriate for Thanksgiving.

I'd better be off... I may have finally gathered up enough energy to do some dishes and make beds. Love me a good lazy morning! Happy Thanksgiving all! Eat lots, share some wine, revel in family and friends and count blessings! That is my agenda for the day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

randomness from Monday

This post is scattered and random, kind of like me, as of late. It all relates to some quick shopping from Monday though, so that is the "tie".

I managed to hit Joann's $1.99 pattern day (McCall's and Simplicity) on Monday. Looks like I have the makings of a new wardrobe. Can't wait to try out some of these! They may have to wait until after some holiday sewing is done though...

On Monday, I also found a souvenir tablecloth at a thrift store. I've been looking for one of these off and on for awhile now, and I am SOOOOOOOOO thrilled with this one. Whether it is actually vintage or not, I'm not sure, but it is fun! It does still have the original sticker on it from when it was purchased- and I only paid 99 cents!

At another thrift store, I found a retro end table. Only $2.95. I haven't decided how/if it will be painted or repurposed... time will tell. I've got some new (to me) wing chairs coming to replace these checkered chairs, so I wanted a table that was shorter than the vintage sewing machine that "lived" there before. My mom is moving these chairs to her new condo in Florida. Between my mother, sister and myself, it is usually a bit of a free for all or switch-eroo with all of us in regards to furniture and who has what at any given time. Dave has a hard time keeping up. I suggest he does not try :)

You may see the paint bucket behind the chair. On Monday I also got a wild hair to change the paint color in the kitchen and family room. The walls are divided into 3 sections by some trim pieces. It had been painted 3 different BRIGHT colors. Now, I'm neutralizing a bit and going with 3 different shades of khaki/tan. We've got enough going on with all the bright furniture and accessories, so I'm going to make the wall less of a distraction. Now, the room is in chaos, with 1/2 the furniture pushed to the center of the room, and the other 1/2 hauled into the front room.

Monday, November 23, 2009


We spent this past weekend doing some thinking about Thanksgiving and what we are thankful for. I saw a blog where the family had created a "thankful tree" (it was here), so the kids and I made our own version. The kids called their daddy, all the way up in his deer stand, to find out his thankfuls too. Turns out he was not to be thankful for "catching" a deer...and honestly, I'm rather thankful that there are no dead deer in my garage, as there has been in years past. Just don't tell him that.

After compiling our lists, we wrote our thoughts on the "leaves" made from some fall colored scrap book paper. Since these are SO obviously my kids, food was a prevalent topic - as was family and friends.

Turns out some of us are very thankful for dinosaur toys, while others for snowmobiles...

That was not the end of our turkey day crafting. Rowan drew an adorable turkey and then wanted it made into a pillow. She has me in the palm of her hand if her wants include me sewing something :) I had her re-draw the turkey design on the pillow fabric (some thrifted corduroy) with a fabric pen and then I did reverse applique to "fill it in".

Here is a happy, and thankful, girl, chill-axin on her pillow. (Nance, notice she is in her cousin's old VB jersey... she loves it!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

repurposing some thrifts

Just a quick post to show some repurposing that I squeezed in today between cooking and cleaning up after cooking. Both projects were done using thrifted goodies I just picked up this week.

In my last post I mentioned I was making a pinboard from this tutorial, right? It is done! Hooray!
I found a hideous plasticy-brassy colored, oval frame at the thrift store, but of course, did not take a picture of it to show y'all a "before" shot. To help you envision it, I'm pretty sure it was circa 1983, lots of mauve and country blue in the print that showed a cottage and a small stream. Puke. I ditched the print right away and threw a coat of plastic primer on the frame. Today, I added a coat of antique white on it with a teeny paint brush because a) it was all I could find and b) it adds more texture and brush strokes, so it looks more chunky. And for this project, chunky is good. Last, I put a piece of cardboard behind some burlap, screwed the frame back on again, and voila, pinboard is done.

I love the detail on the frame edge - almost looks like flowers.

I don't have an exact location/home for it yet, and only threw a few pics on it for blogging purposes, but I do love it. Oh, the pics of the kids are from Brooke at Tadpole Photography taken last year. I just put my order in for our new ones...can't wait to get them!

I fell upon a cashmere sweater for $2 at the thrift store. $2 people. Actually, $1.99. It was a 1/2 button down cashmere sweater from Talbots. The style was not, erm.. flattering, and the color a bit much for me to actually wear, so I knew it was going to be repurposed into something. After some googling, I attempted this hat tutorial, but the ribbing was just too short to attach well. Then I decided to use one a tiny sliver of my coveted Heather Ross Mendocino Seahorse fabric to make the band. I have been hoarding this fabric for the "perfect" project. This counts as it matched perfectly.

I left the buttons on the hat, copying the cute tutorial. I had originally thought that this could be for Rowan, but my kids have had "off the chart" head sizes from the get go, so it may have to be part of my slowly growing Christmas gift stash.

I still have way over 1/2 the sweater left for other crafting pleasure. Scarf like this? Stuffie like this? Hmm.... we'll have to see!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Quick thrift trip

Seems I should have a regular post titled this, as I do manage a quick trip while Griffin is at preschool almost each week. I don't always leave with things, but today had to actually grab a cart. Since I received some money from my Dad and Step-Mom for my birthday, I went a little more hog-wild at the Goodwill than usual. I know, crazy talk. Well, not WILD wild, but I did find some goodies.

I found this adorable lamp. Just cleaned it up a little and it works great.

I picked up a small chalk board for the monsters. They have been writing on it all night.

I found 2 men's sweaters for repurposing. I forgot to take a before picture, but from one of these, I now have me a capey-shawl-thingy that I made using this tutorial. A quick side - My Mama Made it is a repurposing, fashion genius, and her ideas inspire me to actually care about what I wear each day. Huh, who knew? Her ideas are responsible for all the embellished t's I've done lately.

Here is me in the capey-shawly-thingy in the backyard.

No more pics, but I also picked up some fabric that is in the washer with the other wool sweater, a gargantuan embroidery hoop and a huge oval frame that is in the garage with a coat of primer on it, awaiting its new life as a framed pin board (ala this tutorial). Seems this trip yielded more projects and work than a lot of instant gratification. That is good, as I am in a project-y kind of mood.

Therapeutic Sewing

We are a bit down here... got some bad news on Friday and then had an extremely lazy weekend where we moped and vegged. I read 7 books (love Nora and her alter ego JD for giving me a distraction) and watched every Bones episode I could find on Hulu. Last night, I finally decided to try to recapture my "groove" and did some sewing. Turns out it was very therapeutic.

Of late, I seem to have grown a fan in Rowan. As I was opening my sewing hutch, she asked, "Mom, are you going to make me something?". But of course, silly. She picked out some fabrics and I made here a new shirt and a dress.

The shirt is from this tutorial (like this one was too) from Blueprints. I actually wrote down her measurements this time so I can recreate it without starting from scratch next time. Rowan wanted the red thrifted fabric with birds and houses for the main fabric and found a fat quarter of the orange fabric for the sleeves. She is very warm blooded, so despite the fact that our ground is covered in frost this morning, she still asks for short sleeves.

Love the red fabric - little houses and flowers and birds (oh my!).

I added a little patch of the orange to the bottom corner and included my homemade label. She loves this part - and honestly so do I :)

I finally tried the Sienna Dress pattern from Lil Blue Boo last night as well. It is a pattern that lets you re purpose t-shirts into a cute dress, shirt or tunic. I did not follow all the directions, and learned from my mistakes.... but am still happy with how it turned out. Rowan is as well - she loves that this dress is a hodge podge of t-shirts from both Mom and Dad. She decided to wear it to school today, over jeans. When I said I thought tights would work a bit better, she stated (rather snottily) "Mom, I have my own fashion style and I like it with my skinny jeans". Hmmph. Guess she told me. I can't wait to try this again on some more t-shirts.... this time using shirts of like weight and starching things before hand, hint hint. Those were my 2 "issues" this time around, that were unnecessary, had I followed the directions (Ack!).
Here is Rowan's "skeleton/guitar/Audrey" version. A good mix of Mom and Dad, per Miss Sassafrass herself.

My friend Shari drew my attention to this pattern a few months ago, so we'll have to find some t-shirts to make up a version for her Miss Quinn as well. It would be (is, per the flickr site) adorable for a little one too. For Rowan's, I kept the sleeves short (as dictated) and did not hem them or the bottom, instead letting the knit roll just a bit. Love it on her... and she does too, but is mad at me in this picture for the tights comment.

So thanks to sewing for some cheap therapy. And, better yet, thanks to the wonderful friends and family that refused to let an unanswered phone get in the way of "talking" to me this weekend. I got tons of emails and facebooks messages, and voicemails too. I appreciate them all :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Orchard play date

We met up with some friends today at an apple orchard. Beautiful weather + busy and imaginative kids + a fantastic orchard + wonderful friends = a great day! Thanks Brooke and Becky!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Birthday gift for my Mom

Since we are on day 3 of Dave gone a-hunting, there has been more sewing going on than usual around here. It helps that it was beautiful outside, so the monsters are playing "dinosaur hunter" and "camping" in the back yard, while I get my sewing groove on. I finished my mom's slightly belated Birthday gift today. Heck, it is still her Birthday month, so it is not really all that late.

My mother may have mentioned awhile back she wanted a Lickety Split bag... so the pattern (Made by Rae pdf pattern- love it) was easy to choose. Fabric selection was a bit more of a dilemma. I hemmed/hawed over what fabric to use for either side of this reversible bag. She is not a fan of LOUD funky fabric (ahem... like me...), and does not care for my vintage stuff, so most of my fun fabrics were out. She does love quality fabric... in fact she cringes that I buy fabric online when I can't actually touch it first. I ended deciding to use some fabric she bought for me on her last trip to Hawaii for one side. She loves tropical prints and it is such a nice fabric... is it kind of "regifting" to make her something of it? Oh well, she won't care. While scrounging through the stash of fabric I own for the other side, I bumped into some printable photo paper. I had used it to make these bags a few months ago. It triggered some inspiration and I decided to print out some pictures of her 4 grandkids and put them on as pockets. Then it was easy to decide on some off-white corduroy fabric for the body of the bag... so as to not draw too much attention away from the cute kids. I was extremely lucky to have photos on hand that Brooke (Tadpole Photography) took of both sets of kidlets last year. Love her shots! Here is the Hawaii side.

Here is the corduroy side. From this angle, you get just a peek of the pockets, a "tease" if you will. But if she were walking at you with the bag, you'd see whatever pocket is forward. She can decide which grandkids are her favorite for the moment each time she uses it. She'd like that...

Here is the pocket with my niece and nephew on it.

And finally, the one with my beasties on it.

Rowan had to take her Gooma's bag for a spin as well. Looks beachy to me.

I am thinking maybe a nap now (if I can convince the kids to partake as well) and them more sewing??

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seeing Red

Before and after a great play date/gabfest today, I finished a few sewing projects. They both happened to be in the red color genre... so they make for a consistent, if not cohesive, blog post.

I was asked by my sister in law (I have 10, btw, so if you've heard me mention one before, this one is probably a different one) if I could make a bag for her daughter Isobel's birthday. She sent the link to this tote on the Martha Stewart site - and said she'd love this in a string backpack with red tartan fabric. I mainly used the directions for the string backpack in my Sew What! Bags book - but made up my own dimensions, as I've heard from others that they can end up too small to carry much more often than not. While I took that advice and made a pretty large pack, I was not overly impressed with the home "grommeting" I've seen done before (sorry Nance!), nor was I liking the books plan to sew the straps into the bottom seam of the bag. I decided to use fabric loops to run the cord through instead of either of previous methods. Originally, I looked for a different dog silhouette online, but ended up going with the exact dog from Martha's tutorial... just printed out the picture and traced it onto Wonder Under. I used a piece of black t-shirt to make the dog applique - and some seam binding to make the leash. I interfaced the tartan with pretty stiff facing, since it is homespun fabric and kind of wilty on its own. I then used some white fabric to make a liner - more to hide seams than to add any structure. I got a little of the wonder under on the dog and decided to throw it in the wash to see what would come out. Most of the adhesive came out - and it washed well. I still see a little of the adhesive, but I can (and do) find flaws in all things I make. I had to back up and just decided it was good. I hope Isobel likes her new pack. Here is Rowan modeling the backpack.

Isn't the dog cute?

Here are the fabric "loops" that the cording is run through.

The lining is only attached at the top of the bag.

I planned to make myself a new skirt tonight, despite the fact that I am behind on my mother's birthday present. Must be karma, because after I sewed together the side seams of the skirt I cut out, I realized there was NO WAY that it would fit me. I used a self drafted A-Line skirt pattern from Sew What! Skirts that I had used before, but I must have done something wonky, or the Halloween binging has finally caught up with me. Regardless, it was not going to fit me anytime soon, so I decided to make it into a skirt for Rowan instead. Since I used one of my favorite Tina Givens fabrics for the skirt, and happened to have a coordinating piece of fabric in the stash, I made Rowan a quick shirt as well. I have eyed the Peasant Blouse tutorial over on Blueprints for a long while now. To be honest, the idea of measuring and drafting on my own was a bit daunting, but we did it tonight, or at least managed to create a reasonable facsimile. The top is not perfect, but looks adorable on... AND (drum roll please) Rowan likes it! Because she picked out how long her sleeves got to be, she felt very involved in the process. Guess that is what it takes to get her to wear home sewn gear. Hey, whatever works! Here is her new ensemble.

I used fold-over elastic on the quick and easy. Well, it was once I marked the 1/2 way point on both the shirt and the elastic, so as to make sure I was doing enough stretching as I zig and zagged.

I'm off to bed with all my sewing gear still out - and with plenty of plans to sew more tomorrow. (Hint Hint Mom - your bag is all cut out and ready for sewing!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Woodlands Shirt

I was lucky enough to be able to "test" the Woodlands Shirt pattern from Meg from Sew Liberated a few months back. The pattern is a unisex shirt - and makes anywhere from a size 2T to a 10. How great is that? One pattern that will fit for years. And it is so versatile, I am thinking up some new ways and fabrics to use on a few more of these for both my kids. My favorite parts are the square neckline, the little pleats on the neck and the buttons - LOVE the buttons.

I decided to make Rowan a version of the shirt - in a size 7, which runs very true. I used a remnant of fabric I have had for a while now (Joann's??) and it went together like a dream. The method Meg uses to attach the arm is so much easier than others I've done - and did not require sewing in a "round". When thus then required no swearing on my part.

Rowan wearing her shirt, playing in the backyard.

She preferred wearing her shirt with a brown corduroy skirt. Adorable, if I do say so myself :)

Here is a close up of the vintage buttons we decided to use. This may be my favorite part of the pattern.

The only modifications I made to the pattern were not inlcluding the pocket (I thought this fabric was busy enough as it was) and not double sewing around the hem and sleeves. Had I realized that the double hem would be repeated in the neck, sleeves AND hem, I probaby would have done it right from the get go.

I am now thinking it may be time to try the Schoolhouse Tunic for me... I love a tunic over jeans combo.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Sewing

I got some sewing done today- Hooray! Some things were more "fun" to sew than others, but I am feeling uber-productive. May just be the 20 lbs of chocolate coursing through my body, but regardless, I got some stuff done.

I planned to put a package in the mail last week for a good friend that fairly recently had twins, but decided at the last minute that Mama needed a gift too. My thoughts were to save this picture to post with the other goodies that are going out in the mail with it tomorrow. Turns out, I did not take pictures of the rest of the goodies, so this is it, as the package is all taped up and ready to go. Oh, and I should state that this is a spoiler, I guess, if the recipient a) figures out it is for her (how many people do I know that recently had twins?), and b) peeks at my blog before it arrives. I whipped this tote up out of some ticking fabric I had on hand. My sister in law saw a similar bag on the Martha Stewart site, and that was the inspiration for this one. I deliberately did not sew the edges of the dog applique down - I wanted it to fray a bit, since this breed is a bit shaggy/furry :)

Next up was the more mundane task - some mending. Griffin had 3 pairs of jeans in the mending pile, as they all had torn knees. I typically hate trying to patch his knees, since the jeans are so skinny for his little 5T self. I decided to tear out the side seam, and make my life a lot easier. And it truly was - SO MUCH EASIER. After patching the knees, I just sewed up the seam and then serged the edges again. Good as new. I used a few different things to patch the holes- some other denim scraps, some decorator weight fabric and some suede-y stuff from a thrifted shirt. Looks like he won't be needing new jeans for awhile now.

I love the suede patches - I sewed big zig zagged "X's" on them.

I also love just having the one knee with a striped patch.

Last up, I had made a few applique onesies for some newly born babes a while back... but in ironing one where I did an applique neck tie (found the tutorial/template online but cannot find it now anywhere!), my iron leaked some orangy water and created some stains. I threw it in the wash, but could not get the stain all the way out. Drat! I took this out today and cut off most of the stained area (along with the snappy bottom of the onesie) and added a little skirt. A certain Miss Vada I know may need a new ensemble, and I bet her mama can get the little stain there is left out. Or she'll come up with something crafty to make it all good.
It reminds me of a school uniform now...