Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet Stitches

I've really been enjoying all the handwork involved in the gazillion and one dolls and bunnies I've made over the last few weeks. So I owe my mom an apology...on a long visit down to our part of the country she spent hours stitching. Redwork. I just couldn't understand how she could do the same thing over and over, day after day. Ok, Mom, I get it now. Mom was right, as always:)

The methodical up and down of the needle, the mindless activity, the rhythm of the's all so peaceful. But even with all the bunnies I've made, there weren't enough little faces to stitch. So I began a collection of spring themed illustrations. This particular set is bound for an Easter doll quilt (look for it in the shop soon!). But, the patterns are available in the shop now in case you have a hankering to stitch.

And my early Easter gift to you: A list of my top embroidery tips:)

1. Use high quality thread! Whether you're using traditional embroidery floss or perle cotton like I used in my designs, you'll be a lot less frustrated if you spend a tiny bit more for the nicer thread. It won't tangle nearly as much and will result in a smoother motion.

2. SHARP needles! If you've been using the same needle for the last 26 years, it is time for a new one.
3. Tie off before moving. Like in the little chick above...I easily could have moved from one of the little eggshell chips to the next without fastening off and cutting my thread. It would have saved me time. And really, who's gonna know??? Well, everyone maybe. When you stretch a long thread across the back of your design it will either show through the fabric to the front side or cause all of your stitches to become loose and not so cute. So don't do...REALLY!

4. Use variegated thread. Ok, this one is pretty non-traditional and maybe not for everyone. But a nice variegated thread is going to add depth and character to your illustration. And it's just plain fun:)
5. Use the right size hoop. You want to be able to stitch as much of the design as possible, but you still want to be able to pull the fabric nice and taught. If your hoop is too small, you have to move it every few stitches. But, if your hoop is too large then you can't enclose all of the edges of your fabric...not good!

6. And finally...have FUN! Embroidery is a great way to add whimsy to even the most serious of projects. So tuck a tiny bunny in the corner of your own grown-up skirt and wear a happy smile all day long:)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Might as well bag it...

SO...about that Style Stitches Bag Challenge. Not looking so good for me:( But, I did manage to FINALLY finish February's bag! And this one definitely qualifies as EASY!

The patterns in the book are supposed to get progressively more difficult...except I think they might have gotten things a bit out of order. This one was MUCH easier than the Cosmo bag that we made in January. So that begs the question, "Why did it take you so long to finish it, Becky???"

I have no excuse. Well, actually I have about a million excuses, but nobody really wants to hear them:)

If you need a bag large enough to carry a small child, then I highly recommend this project. The directions are clear, the steps are simple, and aside from a lot of time spenting steaming interfacing it is actually a pretty quick pattern. But, I'm not kidding when I say it is large enough to carry a small child! This thing is HUGE! If you filled it with overdue library books it would take an 18-wheeler to pull it. And somehow we always have enough overdue library books to fill a bag of this size...maybe I should sign off and hurry to the library!

And as for March's collection of small zippered pouches...don't hold your breath! But maybe things will look up for April:)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yummy, Yummy Goodness

Three simple ingredients. Three simple steps. Yummy, yummy goodness!

1. Melt 1 box of bittersweet chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Spread the melted chocolate in a thin layer on a sheet of parchment paper (I put my parchment paper on a jellyroll pan for stability).
2. Sprinkle the top of the chocolate with a handful of crushed almonds (I HIGHLY recommend the ones in the pic...Planters Sea Salt and Olive Oil skinless almonds) and about a tablespoon of flax seed.
3. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Then break into chunks.

Like I said, YUMMY, YUMMY GOODNESS! Now quick, hide it from your husband and children!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Make Mine Modern Please!

So I think I've explained most of the buttons over there on the right...but I'm not sure that I told you about the Make Mine Modern swap that I was lucky enough to get into.

The rules of the swap are:
* Your partner is a secret. You know who you're making for, but you have no idea who is making for you.
* You spend hours, days, even weeks stalking your partner to find out what they love and what they need.
* You create 1 hand-made item for you partner.
* You send one item to decorate your partner's sewing space (makes me wish I had one!).
* You send 1.5 yards of fabric that your partner will love.
* You can include any extras that you wish.

This is a sneak peak of the main part of the package for my partner. I'm not going to tell you exactly what it is, but it makes use of my current obsession (DMC perle cotton) and has hours and hours of hand-stitching in it. Wondering about the fabric??? Kona solids from here. You can create your own Kona solids fat quarter bundles in various sizes...and they're really reasonably priced for Kona.
I'll share more of the goodies headed to partner in the next few weeks...I really hope she likes them!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bottled Rainbows Block 1

Here's my first block for the Bottled Rainbows Ticker Tape Quilt Along!

I started with the mustard (which isn't really all that mustardy) because that seemed to be the color that I had the most of...odd since, I rarely use yellow.
I opted to use just a straight stitch around each scrap. I really like the raw edge look (and the fact that my machine is currently having a zigzag stitch malfunction had nothing to do with that decision what so ever!).
I also chose to not do a "quilt as you go" method. I've done that on several projects before and it does make everything go faster, but it just didn't feel right on this one. I think I will do some hand quilting with my new obsession, DMC perle! But, I haven't yet decided how I will do it...something to think about when I can't sleep:)
And I couldn't finish this post without a HUGE thank you to my friend, Courtney! She so generously supplemented my scrap stash for this quilt...and sent some super amazing fabrics in the package. Everything from Heather Ross to Anna Maria Horner. She's the BEST! The background scoop: Courtney and I met in college and are somewhat kindred spirits. We are both stay-at-home moms who love to run and sew. Hop over to Mon Petit Lyons and say hello to her! She has some really fantastic recipes, ideas and tutorials on her blog. And she has two boys to match my two girls, so she can share the other side of the parenting story:) Thanks, Courtney!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Treasure Seeker - Once Upon a Thread

I'm not sure how this happened! I left this book out of my earlier post of selections for Once Upon a Thread! I must have been completely insane...or maybe just sleep-deprived:)

We first introduced this book to Belle on a trip to the beach when I was pregnant with Bee (7 months pregnant + bathing suit = really scary vacation pictures!). She fell in love with it instantly!

The basic idea of the story is that the boy is bored because no one in his family will play with him at the beach. So when a band of pirates offer to take him on a treasure hunt, he decides to go along. At first, he is in love with the life of a pirate, but when he discovers that pirates don't read bedtime stories, it starts to lose its appeal.

The language, illustrations, and plot are lively and fun! It's a must-read for summer...or for any land-lubber with a pirate's spirit.

So, in honor of pirate adventures...a treasure bag with built-in treasure map:)

I used my friend, Courtney's, drawstring bag tutorial...and she isn't kidding when she says it's the easiest one ever! I really wish I had seen this before I made a gazillion treat bags for Bee's birthday. But, you can bet that I'll be smarter for Belle's birthday coming up in a few weeks!

And then a little DMC perle (I told you I was obsessed!) in black for the route and red for the X. I think you can probably see the stitches in the took about 5 minutes. I didn't even bother to draw out the design. I just started in one spot and worked my way around until I felt like it looked right.

Now if I could just convince Belle to have a pirate themed birthday party:)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

From Trash to Treasure

A few days ago I had one of those, "absolutely NOTHING is going right," days. Literally everything I touched turned to trash. Thankfully I was smart enough to stick to sewing for my own kids, so I didn't destroy any custom orders!

But, I was more than a little frustrated!

One of the projects I attempted to make was a dress for Bee for this summer. It really should have been easy. It should have taken about 20 minutes total. It should have been a lot of things that it wasn't!

The problem: I cut the arm holes too deep. In my brain I was making a pillowcase dress with a ribbon casing at the top. In real life that wasn't the case. And since arm holes cut to your belly button just aren't cute on anyone, I decided to try to fix the issue.

Another disaster! I cut off the top edge so that the arm holes were more appropriate, but then my dress was way too short. So I added a red hem band...that was way too stiff.

Can you see where this is going?

In the end, Bee has a new blouse. Roomy, breezy and lightweight. And I just love seersucker for the hot and humid NC summers!

It's cute right???

She had better love it! And wear it twice a week all summer long! Good grief!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Not on the walls...

That's the mantra around here these days!

I know you can't compare one child to the next. It isn't fair and it won't work. But in this case, I just can't help but do it. It's just so telling about life in this house. Belle has never colored on the walls...not once! And she has had pretty much unlimited access to crayons, markers, oil pastels, etc. since she could hold them. Bee...well it took about 30 seconds. She picked up that first crayon and before I could blink there were huge orange scribbles all over our kitchen wall.

So for now, we color only while strapped into the booster seat. But she does love this toy! It is made by Crayola and plays music at the same tempo as your coloring. Color faster and the music speeds up...pretty fun:) If you have little ones who like music and like to color, it's definitely great for rainy days.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcoming a New Baby

Welcoming a new baby is always fun! Those tiny toes, that sweet smell, the feathery hair....mmmmmm!

And every baby deserves a little something special, made just for them!

And a cute little cupcake on the bum can't hurt either:)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Meet Millie and Her Very Special Friends

Millie is a very special little lady with a smile that will make you flip. Not to mention her wispy wings and shining eyes. Be still my heart!

Whether playing outside, dancing to music, or reading a book, Millie can always be found with her best pals at her side. Elise is the shy, peaceful member of the bunch. She soothes her friends when they are hurt or sad, and holds their hands when they are scared. Piper, on the other hand, is the rowdy one. She's always looking for the next tree to climb, wall to scale, or refrigerator to paint:)

Like the angel and devil on Millie's shoulders, Piper and Elise push Millie to new heights. Whether it's challenging her to climb a new tree or encouraging her to slow down and smell the flowers, they bring out the best in Millie in every situation. What a lucky girl to have friends like these!

And on the rare occasions when her buddies aren't around, Millie pals around with her best human friend who even sports a coordinating dress. I hope the human Millie will love her new doll for many years to come!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bottled Rainbows Quilt Along

I've been prepping to start my Bottled Rainbows ticker tape quilt for the quilt along. If you haven't heard about it, click on the button to the right to find out more...there's still time to join in!

I don't maintain much of a stash of solid fabrics (something I'd love to change in the near future), so I ordered a fat quarter set from Whipstitch just for this quilt. The set includes the 16 Kona shades recommended for this quilt....BEAUTIFUL!

So once it arrived, I started digging through my scraps. I laid each of the solids out on the table and starting pile my scraps where they matched. It was really a lot of fun playing with all those tiny pieces that I had been hanging on to for who knows how long.

I then dug into my regular fabric stash to suplement. I cut small scraps off of larger cuts and added them to the piles.

After pressing each scrap this was what I ended up with. Isn't it lovely???

Except that I have some MAJOR holes in my scrap stash:( So if you have scraps in any of the shades below that you are willing to share, PLEASE send them my way!!! PLEASE!!!! Scraps can be as small as 1"x2" or as large as about 5" square. Many, many thanks in advance!


Saturday, March 12, 2011


I am lucky to have a group of very lovely and very loyal, local customers. I've done everything from birthday party t-shirts, to holiday skirts for these super sweet ladies. And even though I don't know their children, I feel like I am watching them grow up through their clothes, toys, and bedroom accessories.

I "met" Davis through his birthday party t-shirt quite a while ago. You may remember that one with the giant 2 on the front. I even had to privilege of helping him announce his new "Big Brother" status when his mom found out she was expecting. And now that his little brother is about to arrive, Davis is getting a big boy bedroom. His super-creative mom has designed quite a room complete with dinosaur wall decals and a hand-painted growth chart. And I got to add these adorable pillows to the mix.

The dinosaur pillow has a corduroy applique design on the front. The Charlie Brown pillow was made with this tutorial. It is really simple, but really tedious! All the measuring, clipping, and pressing of those tiny points just about drove me bonkers. But it is so cute now that it's finished, that I think it was totally worth it!
I hope Davis likes them...and his new brother:)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Once Upon a Thread

Have you heard about Once Upon a Thread??? If not, look over there to the right and click on that button. You aren't going to want to miss this! Katy over at No Big Dill is hosting a MONTH of projects based on children's books. Clothes, toys, and who knows what else! I'm just a tiny bit excited!

A little background for those of you who don't know me personally...I used to be a teacher, an elementary teacher, an elementary LITERACY teacher. To say that we have a lot of children's books in our house would be like saying there are a few stars in the night sky. Maybe one day I'll share some pics of all the books you can find in all the various places in our house, but for now, let's just say that I didn't need to head to our local library to prep for this challenge.

The problem was narrowing the selection! I spent nap time today thumbing through the books in our playroom. After pulling a stack of possibilities as tall as Bee, I curled up in the rocking chair to read and brainstorm. And a couple of hours later, I think I've made my final choices.

It's a mix of award winners, old favorites, new classics, and some just for fun stories (and not a princess story in the whole mix!). I have projects planned for each of the books, but I make no promises that I will actually get around to all of them this month. But, I'll do my best and hopefully we'll have some fun along the way.

Now being a former literacy teacher and all, I can't pass up the opportunity to share some of that knowledge stored in the dark recesses of my brain. So along with the projects, I'll include a little about each of the books, as well as ideas for engaging your child in the stories, words, pictures, and letters found in each title. You may even find some "do with your child" projects for a few of the books.

I hope you have as much fun as I do!

What's your favorite children's book?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February Style Stitches Bag Challenge

Want to see my Everyday Shopper for the month of February Style Stitches Bag Challenge???

Well, here it is!

Ugh! It's only February (well, now March), and already I've fallen behind. And I had such high hopes for this one. I even cut out the pieces in mid-January. But then I started hearing how easy it was, how quickly it came together, how simple the construction, and well...if it's that easy and that quick, I can wait until tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. And here we are on March 1 and there my bag still lies, sadly abandoned, pushed to the side, neglected. Maybe tomorrow...