Friday, October 9, 2015

and cards to match

The finishing touch to the very late birthday gifts were these very late handmade cards.

Made from paper, gel pen and felt.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

branch and berry applique pillow covers for people I love

Handmade gifts. I sewed these two pillow covers over the course of the last month for beloved people Robyn and Leigh. And they were mailed embarrassingly late for their September birthdays. Sorry, guys.

That's what they look like stuffed with pillows. This grey one is Robyn's, shown flat:

The colors were chosen to match her decor. So if it clashes, Robyn, please feel completely free to never tell me.

While I'm showing Robyn's cover I'll throw in the other handmade item in her package (but not made by me): this pretty embroidered necklace by Skrynka. Natalka is really so friendly and handles custom orders with ease. I got one for myself a few months ago and love it. Her work is so neatly done and I dig the antiqued finish on the chain and settings.

The orangey browny cover is Leigh's, made with her family room in mind:

Covers are much easier to mail than actual pillows, you know. All this goes on the assumption that they already have handy an 18 inch pillow that needs a fall makeover. Fingers crossed, ears plugged.

Both covers were made with the same pattern. I sketched the original design small on paper (I work much better with thumbnail size) and then scanned it and scaled it way up to actual size. I printed it out and traced a cleaner copy over it with freezer paper and punched holes for placement guides.

The fabric is heavyweight canvas. The leaves were appliqu├ęd with a zig zag and the stems were done by many passes of straight stitch machine sewing while I re-watched Dr Who series 5. (My favorite is the first episode. "You're Scottish, fry something." Prisoner zero. Fish custard!) The berries are cut from wool felt and sewn on by hand.

I always wonder when I'm in the middle of sewing these stems if there is a heavier weight of thread that I can use (like jean thread) that wont mess up my machine in the process. I'll have to look into that.

I finished the covers with the envelope backs and piping method from my pillow cover tutorial of yore. Tacky glue sure beats pins.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

early bird/night owl prototype, malware and trust issues

Hey. I've been quiet but busy. My beloved and wonderful mom turned 80! I love her so much. What a lucky kid I am. We had a wonderful girls-only family celebration at the beach and it was a nice getaway from the computer and security problems I've been having lately.

Mean people infected my computer with malware and so I've been dealing with huge waves of malicious emails being sent from my personal email address to everyone I've ever emailed in my whole life and also their dogs. My apologies if you've received any of those. I don't send out patterns or updates via email so please don't click on any of those links that say 'Hey, friend! Go here," or similar. I know y'all are smarter than that, but thought I'd tell you anyway. Apparently after the initial wave they can still send emails that appear to be from me without actually being from me, which is called spoofing. Just trash them.

I've been working with my email provider and I've had to completely wipe my Mac and start from scratch to make sure the boogeymen are gone. It's left me with major trust issues so I can hardly bring myself to get on the internet anymore. And also now after the rebuild of my computer I've been introduced to the nightmare that is the Mac Photos app and I hate hate hate it. Whoever decided it would make a swell replacement for iPhotos needs to be put in the naughty corner with a cone hat. Downloading and formatting those two images up there ^ would have taken about 5 minutes max in iPhotos. It took me about 30 minutes in Photos and there were plenty of creative epithets being hurled around during that time. I hear there's a new one being released today so I hope they've listened to the myriad complaints. Oh, iPhoto, I miss youuuuuuuuu.

Anyhoo. Done with the negative stuff. Cute birds! Let's talk about cute, stuffed birdies. What you see is a tight prototype of the upcoming pattern. There were some minor tweaks made since the original one for my daughter (some I like, some I don't). So a few more little tweaks to come. But it's close.

It's almost October! That's so crazy! Where did you go, September? It seems like time speeds up after August every year. Slow down, fall, I want to savor you. I need pumpkins on my porch! Must go buy pumpkins and mums.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

curated felt color collection for Gold Ring ornaments

Once again, Renae at Benzie Design has put together a handy bundle of felts and flosses that I've chosen for you to use along with the Gold Ring pattern if you'd like to make ornaments similar to the ones shown above. Thank you, Renae! She has an option for just the felt bundle OR the felt bundle along with some matching flosses:

Gold Ring Benzie Felt Colors are:
Ochre, Mustard, Bronze, Copper, Swan, Peacock, Pool, Blue, Flamingo and Magenta

You always need matching flosses when you sew layers together, so having the floss bundle comes in handy and helps build your embroidery stash. Please choose your option (with floss or without floss) from the Benzie Design drop down menu (there are also bundles for the other Twelve Days ornaments in that same listing).

Note: You will also need some additional contrasting flosses to do the decorative embroidery shown in the sample photo. If you purchase the matching floss bundle you will already have some of these colors! Here are the DMC numbers for the decorative embroidery:

Pink/gold/orange ring:
DMC White
DMC 924
DMC 917

Violet blue/gold/light yellow ring:
DMC White
DMC 820*
DMC 920*
DMC 3822*

Turquoise blue/gold ring:
DMC White
DMC 3844
DMC 831*

*These DMC colors are already included in the Benzie bundle.

I've also worked with Benzie to put together a curated bundle of felt for each of the previous Twelve Days patterns and you can find them all under that same Benzie listing in the drop down menu. See these older blog posts for more pictures and details: Partridge & Pear, Turtle Dove, and French Hen, and Colly Bird.

I hope you enjoy your holiday hand sewing! Look for Goose A-Laying this fall.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

all the things

O September, my September! How I love thee. Getting so close to fall, my favorite. Trying to put on the brakes and really savor it, but it's hard to slow down with another school year starting in earnest and two patterns on my table. I'm one of those naysayers who thinks it should be illegal to put up Christmas decorations before December first. Let me have my autumn, people! *waving cane*

There's already been a subtle change in the light and air here. Yes, yes, we are in Atlanta, so there will still be plenty of sweaty armpit days and it sure ain't time to break out the boots and scarves (no really, random citizens. It isn't), but we've had a couple of preview days with cooler temps and breezes.

The photo. Like my dreamy new fall shoes? I was a goner the moment I put them on. They might be a cross between Howard's End and Soul Train, but I love them hard. So comfortable. (That now being my number one concern. Welcome to middle age.) And they go with practically everything in my wardrobe! I was sashaying around the house in them the other day in my pajamas (rolled to the knee), trying them with different coats and doing a fashion show for my two girls. They remained unimpressed. What do they know?

Both the school carts are already overloaded and disorganized after one week of school. I should have enjoyed that initial five minutes they looked nice and neat. I still get a huge thrill out of new school supplies.

Home schooling will be a bit different for us this year as both my girls are enrolled in an excellent academy that partners with home schoolers in my area. They'll be attending classes a couple days a week. The rest of the days will be at home with their favorite teacher. haha. My husband and I think it's important as they get older to learn to be accountable to other teachers besides myself (and excellent teachers too!) and to really stretch themselves and get comfortable with giving presentations and being part of a classroom setting. Our first year with the academy was last year and it was fantastic.

We are trying origami. It's nice to take a break from academics to sit and fold paper and add goofy faces. The girls have never really tried it and I'm not very experienced. We are finding this book to be a great starter:

Speaking of home schooling, Angry Chicken just posted a great list of home schooling links here, and That Artist Woman has an excellent post about her favorite school art supplies here. And my friend Laura recommended a great site for math practice. Both my right-brained children need to get quicker with mental math and this makes a nice break from flash cards. I think it's great! The girls complain loudly, but that's how I know they are learning.

In crafty news, I've jumped right from Gold Ring to developing the Early Bird/Night Owl pillow pattern. This one's ready to stuff. Ugh. My least favorite step. I hate to stuff things, but now I realize this may be because I've been using the worst possible stuffing available. I didn't think there were many differences but after seeing this timely post I'm game to try the stuffing that Wendi Gratz recommends so highly. I think I'll be making a special trip to the store this afternoon so I can get some.

My local craft stores love to see me coming during pattern development. I shop with a scatter gun mentality. Even if I have a pretty good idea of what I need for the samples I'm making, I'm always plagued with doubts and end up getting some of everything in every color. It usually pays off.

I hope you are having a lovely September, and happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Gold Ring pattern is in the shop!

Ornament No. 5, rollin' off the assembly line. I'm not sure why this Gold Ring pattern took so long to get out. Well, yes I am. Trips, vomit viruses, busyness, family in the hospital, freelance jobs, other projects and also a few days of general summer apathy sprinkled throughout. But it's done! I can see fall coming around the corner and I'm getting excited! Tights! Wool skirts! Soups! Cozy Christmas handmaking!

*singing in operatic falsetto* Fiiiiiive gooooold riiiiings...
Or blue rings. Or pink rings. No reason you can't sew outside the box. I'm a big fan of unexpected colors.

There's room on the back to add a name or date if you like.

This ornament, just like the previous four in this Twelve Days series, uses a Sulky printable stabilizer to streamline the process. It really makes the whole thing so quick and easy. No hand-tracing or transferring embroidery patterns! Just print and sew right on the printed lines. YES. Then the stabilizer dissolves away in water.

To download the PDF sewing pattern for Gold Ring or any of the other Twelve Days series, visit my Etsy shop or my Craftsy shop. I plan to release Goose a Laying this fall!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

mixtape for my new teenager!

I've seen this thirteen coming from a long way off but it's still surprising it's here. Thirteen! ThirTEEN. I have a teenager! She's the sweetest, bestest teenager around and still loves to hug her momma. Still hates coffee though. So puzzling.

To celebrate, I made my girl a reversible, furry stinkface pillow, a banana cake and also this mixtape. If you are new here, mixtapes have been a birthday tradition with my girls since they were teeny. I love putting them together. I tried to pick songs with a 'teenager' theme, along with other songs she likes, songs she'll grow to like, and songs from memorable movies. That Rush song is in honor of my Schmoopie. He's so proud his daughters are getting into his music. She likes Spirit of Radio but Subdivisions is a perfect anti-conformist teen anthem, I think.

That first song was perfect to blast on our sound system the morning of her birthday. It's an over-the-top stereotype of teen princesses. "Gimme a break, I'm just a teenager..." Pretty funny. Here's my birthday girl getting a sweet hug from me at Nana's house...

...which turns into a half nelson and her saying "MOOOOMMM!" as I'm trying to tell everyone the beautiful story of the morning she was born. "Thirteen years ago at eight o'clock in the morning I was saying to the nurse, "Someone just kill me..."

Well, she was 9 lbs 2 oz. She owes me big.

Oh, thirteen! I remember you well! I was still so awkward looking and nervous and dissatisfied about everything. Braces. Anxiety. Terrible hair. My teenage daughter is so not that. She seems laid back and completely comfortable with being herself. She loves to read fantasy stories, draw, listen to music, and go places with her Dad. She's funny. She's meticulous about privacy and is mortified when I walk around the house in my underdrawers. (Hey, we are all girls here! For pete's sake!) She's getting lean and lanky like her Daddy. As she's pulling away from us and gaining independence, she's also getting a fine, discerning mind of her own and such a caring, tender spirit. We love her so much!