Thursday, August 26, 2010

Saint Joe

I'm really trying not to blog constantly about the house.  This *is* crafty, though!
(I'm talking about the St. Joseph tradition described here, in case I've already lost you.)

I was wandering through the Happy Zombie blog (have you been there?  ohmygoodness, it is one of my happy places!).  I love to scan through blogs for tutorials and patterns.  It gives me ideas, often encourages me to make a purchase, and sometimes I stumble onto some really cool free stuff!  Which is exactly what happened late one night this weekend.  I found this post and nearly fell over.  I love anything whimsical and cute, and this is about the cutest and most whimsical saint I've ever seen!  Not to mention, we can use all of the Saint Joseph love that we can get!  (If you're lost once again, we are trying to sell our house in central Illinois so that my daughter and I can move out to Seattle where my husband started working back in June.)

Without further babbling, I give you Saint Joseph!

How cute is he???  He's now sitting on our mantle, where I keep stopping to admire him.  I also had enough forethought to stick the prayer to Saint Joseph next to him so that I can pick it up and read it more often.

I sure hope he finds the time to help out our family soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The cutest (and cuddliest) pj pants ever!

These pants are brought to you in part by "The Crappiest Week Ever" and the letter Z.

Ok, I'm joking about the letter Z.  Although it's really giving me a run for the money in more than one Words With Friends game right now.

But I'm not actually joking about the crappy week.  As of right now, Wednesday night, there has been house selling drama, a broken cell phone, a puking momma, a house showing that ended with "your 5-bedroom, 2000 sq. ft. house is too small for my clients", and then a puking 3-year old!

We had the house showing earlier today, and the feedback came through a few hours later.  I won't bore everyone with my rant about the house, so let's just leave it with I-was-really-upset.

Needing a break from life, I wandered into my sewing room.  (Not too hard to do, in my *small* house.  Ok, ok, I'm done ranting.  Really.)  Back to the sewing room: I needed a simple project to occupy my mind, and give me a sense of completion.  Unfortunately, all of the projects on my "must do now" list (not to be confused with the 5 million page long to do list), are complicated and time consuming.  So I broke my rule about starting something new, and I made these pj pants for Addy.

Fabric: Colorful Christmas by Riley Blake
I used a flannel, and it is SOOOO soft!  So much softer than the stuff at JoAnn's!
Pattern: Sasha Pants (I actually have the size 18/24mo - 5T pattern, but I don't see it on their site)
I used a size 4T, but I also sewed larger (3/8") seam allowances to allow for serging and a larger (1") bottom hem.  Even with those changes, the 4T will probably fit Addy for 2 years.
Lastly, I cut the 4T pants plus two 2" strips from 3/4 yard of fabric.  I probably could have gotten the 5T out of 3/4 yard if it wasn't a flannel.  Those flannels just fray so much in the wash!  If you have a stripe that runs selvedge to selvedge, you would need more yardage.
Extras: 5/8" white ribbon

I added the ruffle myself.  My initial intent was to make a wide ruffle at the hem.  But I was lazy, and I cut the pant legs at the regular length.  That didn't leave me enough fabric for a wide ruffle-and besides, I would have had to chop a bit off of the pant legs that I just cut.  I couldn't waste those few inches!

So, I finished the raw edges of the 2" strips with a rolled hem on my serger.  Then I ruffled it (for Bernina people, I used a stitch length of 5 and the "6" setting on my ruffler).  After it was ruffled, I pressed it.  The ruffle will fluff up again in the wash, and pressing it helps make it more manageable.  I basted the ruffles onto the open pant legs with the bottom edge of the ruffle at the stitch line for the hem (I used a 1" hem).  Then I laid my ribbon down so that it was centered over the basting stitches, and sewed down either side of the ribbon.

Ok, enough rambling.  Here are some action pics!


The ruffle detail:

And a teaser shot!

See those pillows above?  Those are two FINISHED Mendocino pillows!!  I'm going to wait to post when I have all 4 complete, but I actually am making progress. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another Sew Along!

I desperately need a nice wool coat.  You know, for all of those fancy parties that we go to.  And I'm a big sucker for a sew along.  So here I go, adding more to my project list!

Head over to Gertie's blog for more info and to join in on the fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Festival Tote

This bag was a custom order for my aunt.  She had worn out her work bag, so she asked me to create  new one!  With photos of her current bag and a list of features that she wanted, I went to work.  We decided on the Anna Maria Horner Festival print in dusk, which is one of my favorites.

I kept the bag design simple.  For an every day tote, I was more concerned about durability and structure.

Bag specifics:
17" wide, 13" tall, 6" deep
28" handle
1 large zipper compartment that spans the entire width and height of the bag
Main print is AMH Festival in dusk
Coordinate is a navy canvas
I used premade piping
For the handles, I bought 1" webbing and covered them with 3" wide strips of the canvas.  I've done this a few times now, and I think it makes the best handles.  They are really sturdy, easy to make, and the color always matches!
The base of the bag includes 2 layers of peltex that I machine stitched onto the inside of the outer fabric bottom.


Handle detail:

Side snaps:

Top zipper compartment:

And because I love including little surprises, I made this gathered clutch:

The bag and gathered clutch made it to my aunt, and she loves them!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Project Modern

I work best under pressure.  In fact I've found that if I have a deadline, I will often start a new project-the time crunch that follows is usually just the kick I need to hit my deadline.  Weird, huh?  Well anyway, because I never have enough going on I think I'll join Project Modern!  Head over to the Modern Quilt Guild blog to learn more and join in on the fun!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Baby Stacks - Tutorial

Stacked coin quilts are really popular right now.  I needed a baby quilt for a gift, so I thought I'd play with the stacked coin idea with some charms.  For this quilt I used only the girl prints from 2 Funny Babies charm packs for a total of 40 charms.
This pattern could easily be altered for just about any charm pack, regardless of how many charm squares.  And the best part is that it can easily be pieced in an hour or two!

Baby Stacks, 38" x 38"
40 charm squares
2/3 coordinate for borders
1/3 yard binding
42" square batting
1 1/4 yard backing

Gather your 40 charm squares:

Chop them in half so that you have 80-2.5" x 5" pieces:

This step is optional, but it helps me embrace the random piecing.
Toss the 80-2.5" x 5" pieces into a bag and give them a shake!

Piece together 5 strips of 16 coins each.  I pull 2 pieces out of the bag at a time and chain piece.  When I have everything sewn into pairs, I toss them all back into the bag and pull 2 out to sew into sets of 4.  Continue until you have strips of 16.  Press.  The strips should measure approximately 5" x 32.5":

Measure the length of each of the 5 coin stacks and take an average of the 5 measurements.  Don't worry if they aren't all exactly the same.
Now cut the 2/3 yard coordinate print into 8 strips 3" wide by WOF.  Set 2 strips aside for the top and bottom borders.  Trim the remaining 6 strips so that they are the average length of your coin stack strips.
Attach the strips of coordinate fabric to the coin stack strips.  You may want to pin these a bit.  I usually pin at the top, bottom, and once in the middle.

Piece all of the coin stacks together and press all seams.  At this point you should have a nearly complete top with both side borders, 5 pieced coin stacks and borders between each stack.
Measure the width of your quilt top at the top, bottom, and middle.  Find the average of the 3 measurements.  Now pull out the top and bottom 3" border strips that you set aside earlier.  Trim the length of both of these strips to the average measurement that you just calculated.
Attach the top and bottom borders.  Again you may want to pin at a few places.

Press all seams.  Layer top, batting and backing.  Quilt.  I quilted straight lines 1/2" apart.  This is a great pattern for practicing straight line quilting without marking any lines because you can check your quilting lines against the seams in the top.  I used the edge of my walking foot as a guide to keep my lines 1/2" apart, and when I approached a seam I adjusted my quilting to keep my lines moving straight down the quilt.

Bind your quilt however you like.


(Now I need to find a baby boy who needs a quilt, so I can use the rest of this fabric line!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Money Envelopes

I suck at budgeting.  We don't live outside of our means, but we also don't save as much as we could.  I've been hearing so much about the Dave Ramsey envelope system that I thought we should give it a try.  First we needed some envelopes, though!  I made a simple 4" x 7" zipped pouch with the labels embroidered on:

We are starting off with these 5 envelopes:

I had a hard time writing up the rough budget.  I knew how much fun money we should be spending, but things like groceries were, and are still, a mystery to me.  I want to cut out some of our expenses from eating out, but I'm not concerned with how much we are spending at the grocery store.  I think I've budgeted enough for us to eat well as home plus eat out occasionally.  I think it will be a work in progress, though.
I actually think our personal envelopes will make the biggest difference in our spending.  "Fun" money is meant to be spent when we do things together-either on a date, or as a family.  If we want to do something on our own, that will come out of our individual money.
Groceries will cover eating out as well, but only eating out as a family.  Our solo/work/friend meals will come out of our individual money.
And I haven't decided how the "Clothes" money will be divided.  I'm thinking that money will be used for basics.  And if either of us want something beyond that, we'll have to use our individual money.
Gas money will continue to go on our credit cards.  I don't want to have to take Addy out of the car to pay for gas, and our gas consumption is a pretty small amount of our budget.

As we use the system, I'm sure we'll tweak things a bit.  I may add some categories or combine some.

I also haven't decided how my sewing money should be split up.  I think I'm going to split anything I make, but I haven't quite figured that all out.  Should Matt get part of the profit for his fun money?  Should it go in the bank?

I'm excited to start the system.  And besides, the envelopes are so stinkin' cute! :)

P.S. Sorry about the dark pics lately.  We just upgraded to a dSLR, and I haven't figured it out yet.  It always seems to be too dark or too bright!  (Funny that I mention our camera purchase in a post about budgeting.  LOL!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010


In case you didn't catch it, Wee Wonderfuls has a book out now!  It's full of super cute toys.

And if you take a minute to wander through the Wee Wonderfuls blog, you'll see that she has offered the Mermaiden pattern for FREE through the Martha Stewart website!  I was really excited to see that last week, because Addy has had her eye on that mermaid ever since the book came out a few weeks ago.  :)

I decided to make 2 mermaidens at once, since we have a birthday party coming up soon.  Addy picked all of the fabric (with some coaxing from me!), and I did all of the sewing.  They are so adorable, and just the right size.  They aren't too big to fit in a purse or a pocket, and not so small that they'll get lost easily.

I love how they turned out, but boy did they take a bit of time!  There is a considerable amount of hand sewing, which seems to go slowly for me.

Addy's mermaid has the red hair and red fin.  The brown-haired mermaid is for Addy's friend. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A picnic quilt and some upcycling

Right after Matt left for Seattle I divulged in some retail therapy.  And within a few days I had a fat quarter pack of Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow in my hot little hands!  (BTW, Hawthorne Threads is fabulous!  Great prices, great selection, and FAST shipping!  And no, I wasn't paid to say that, lol!)

I loved the darker colors, and thought this fabric would make a great picnic quilt.

I cut each fat quarter into 1-2.5" wide strip and 9-5" squares.
The 2.5" strips were for binding-I had to add a 20" long piece of some kona to make it all of the way around the quilt.
With the 5" squares I made 16 9-patch units.  I then cut those apart, rearranged them, and sewed the top together in a disappearing 9-patch arrangement.  There's a great disappearing 9-patch tutorial here.
There are several different layouts for the disappearing 9-patch, and I just did some flickr browsing until I had a good idea of what I liked.  You can also play around with the chopped up pieces before you sew them back together!

The upcycle in this quilt is the backing.  Matt bought me this red and black blanket back in college, and when one of our dogs was a puppy he chewed a hole in one of the corners. :(  I couldn't bring myself to toss it, so it's been in the basement for awhile.  What a sweet reminder every time Addy and I go to the park now!

I did some simple straight line quilting on this.  I quilted a single line through the narrow pieces and a double line through the larger squares.  I didn't mark the lines or use a guide on my machine, so they are a bit wonky.  I was afraid that I would hate them when the quilt was off of the frame, and I was prepared to rip it all out.  But I think they look fine, especially now that the quilt has been washed and crinkled up a bit.  I did have a few problems with the backing stretching and making the top a little poofier than I would have liked.  I should have anticipated the stretch, since the back is sort of a fleecey material.  I'm trying to let go of the imperfections, though.  After all, it is a picnic quilt!  I'm sure the first time we drop a pb&j sandwich on it, I'll forget all about the poofiness and the wonky quilting!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Mendocino quilt - finally!

I have actually been storing this finished quilt in my sewing room for several weeks now.  The quilting was finished in early June, but I stalled out on the binding.  Once Matt left for Seattle, I spent most of my nights in my sewing room rather than sitting in front of the tv (which is when I sew most of my binding).  I did finish it up after a few movie nights, but then I had to wait for a photo opportunity.  It's kind of hard to photograph a full size quilt all by yourself. ;)

The details:
I used Kona in pale flesh for the solid
All prints are Mendocino by Heather Ross
The pattern was based on this:
I couldn't find any information about this pattern online, but it's called Kid in the Candy Store and it was designed by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  I found the pattern in the April 2006 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.
I didn't piece the rectangles because I wanted larger pieces of the prints.  I referenced the pattern for yardage and cutting dimensions, but did my own thing with the piecing.
Machine pieced and quilted.  Quilting is a random, gentle wave pattern that travels across the quilt.

The front:

The label, including a tiny bit of selvedge (which I haven't written out yet!):

And the back, which shows the quilting better:

I love how this quilt turned out.  It took a lot longer to piece than I would have expected, and I had a tough time making the colors look random enough for my liking.  It was really worth it, though!  I love the colors, and I think it will work well in Addy's bedroom for a long time.
I have quite a few scraps left, and I'm hoping to make some fun pillows from them.  Just don't hold your breathe for a post on them. ;)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bitty Bag = big frustration (the Echino predecessor)

I found this pattern at the quilt shop where I used to work.  I love the idea of the bag, and their sample was very cute.  If I'd seen the pattern by itself I probably would have just kept walking, but the sample sold it for me!

I used some older Amy Butler for this bag, I think these are both Daisy Chain prints.
I also made up a Lazy Girl Wonder Wallet to match.

In the end, I changed a lot about this bag.  I also wasted a zipper and some fabric-which led to me having to substitute a bit.  I was working from scraps, but if I hadn't changed anything with the pattern I would have had enough of my original prints.

I have no idea if the fabric requirements are accurate for this, because I just grabbed some stuff from my stash.

My biggest gripe with this pattern was that it had you sewing through LOTS of layers.  I have a pretty nice machine, so when I can't easily assemble something I assume that plenty of others will have the same problem.  I also have an industrial machine for quilting, which I do pull out for sewing things like leather.  But for this little bag, I didn't want to deal with hauling it out.

The biggest change that I made was to omit the batting from the outside zipped pocket.  If I were to repeat this pattern I would also omit the batting from the front outside pocket, and maybe just forgo batting altogether.  I don't used polyester batting, so maybe that would have been easier to work with than cotton. But I think that a lightweight interfacing alone would be the best.  With all of the pockets on this tiny bag, the batting isn't really necessary for structure.  I also chose not to box out the bottom corners, mainly because I didn't want to deal with all of the bulk.


The finished dimensions of this bag are 8" tall by 5.5" wide.  I *thought* that I wanted a bag that small, but it ended up too small for me.  I liked the shape, though, which I why I sewed up the Echino bag!

The benefit of this bag is that it includes several credit card slots-both inside the main zipper and inside the outside front pocket.  So it would be easy to ditch the wallet to minimize bulk.  I just don't like the idea of not carrying a wallet. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Little Quilty Things

Lately I've been craving some instant gratification.  So I made a few small quilty things...

Camera strap (2" x 23" finished):
(And yes, I broke into some more Heather Ross!  I'm going to create a brown camera bag with some HR accents, too.)

Phone Cozy:
OK, I know it seems like a silly thing to have.  But I drop things.  A lot.  The only downfall to keeping my phone in the cozy is that I have to turn the ringer up all of the way.  But it has stayed scratch free so far!
Fabric is Love by Amy Butler.

Ipod case:
At 6" wide and 4.5" tall, this little case is perfect for my nano, armband, and earbuds.  I added an inside zipper pocket for my earbuds, which also divides the interior into 2 sections.  I love that everything has it's place, and it's so nice to keep everything together!
Fabric is Love and Midwest Modern 2 by Amy Butler.
Oh, I left the batting out of this case to reduce bulk.  So I guess technically this one isn't quilty. ;)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The simple things in life

Kids are funny.  Spend 3 weeks working on a quilt or 3 minutes working on a pair of pj pants.  Chances are, the pj pants will win out-at least with my 3-year old!

We picked up some Princess and the Frog flannel during a trip to JoAnn's and I told Addy I'd make her a pillowcase and some pj pants.  The problem with making pj pants is that they are so easy, I always end up making more than 1 pair.

And that's just what I ended up doing a few weeks ago.

In 1 day, I finished:
2 pj pants for Addy
1 pj shorts for Addy
2 pillowcase dresses (size 2 and 5T)
2 pairs adult sleep capris

I used a pattern from Weekend Sewing for the pj pants and shorts.
For the pillowcase dresses I used this pattern.
The adult capris were designed after my current favorite pair from Old Navy.

Princess and the Frog pillowcase
Woven cotton snowman pants
Princess and the Frog pants
Knit giraffe shorts

I'm saving the snowman pants for the holidays, or at least until the weather is cooler. :)  And nearly every night Addy asks if she can wear the Princess and the Frog pants.  But with temperatures in the 90's lately, flannel is going to have to wait!

Owl pj capris with knit waistband

The cotton that I used for these is thicker than I realized.  It's too hot here for them right now, but I think they'll be great for the fall!  The second pair is for my sister, her sorority mascot was an owl!

Pillowcase Dresses

These dresses are part of my goal to sew more for others.  I made Addy a dress very similar to the one shown here on the left.  She wore it to my in laws' house a few weeks ago when my mother in law's neighbor stopped by.  The neighbor mentioned that she loved the dress, so I whipped these up for her granddaughters.  She loved the dresses, and I was just happy to surprise someone with such a simple project! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Handmade Donations

Somewhere along my sewing and quilting journey, I've established quite the fabric stash!  A fat quarter here, a few yards of sale fabric there...pretty soon I have much more than I know what to do with.

I've given a decent amount of fabric to my sewing friends, but that still leaves quite a bit.  I've been working hard to only purchase fabric for specific projects and sew from my stash whenever I can.  Another idea that I've come up with is to use some of my stash to create items to donate.

I got this idea when I stumbled on the Craft Hope blog.  I missed their first project, but I was able to participate in several so far.

The current project is to create pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.
I came up with enough stash fabric to make 14 pillowcases!  I can't lie, the Castle Peeps are my favorite. :)