Friday, August 28, 2009

please oh please...

Image via Flea Market Fancy Freaks

You guys know how I feel about my fabric BFF, Flea Market Fancy. I clued in late to this Denyse Schmidt collection just in time to purchase a charm pack and some yardage from ebay before the prices got CRAZY HIGH because it went out of print.

Well, I want more. Do you? Yes you do!

To that end, Sew Take a Hike has started the aptly named blog, Flea Market Fancy Freaks, where you can sign a petition, and also link your favorite FMF photos. She has already contacted Free Spirit Fabrics and has gotten an encouraging response. Let's blow Free Spirit Fabrics out of the water with our Flea Market Fancy Freakishness.

Spread the word!

Oh, and if you haven't seen it, here's my next Denyse Schmidt fabric infatuation, a sneak peek of her new collection, Hope Valley, at TrueUp.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

house diorama

Left: The actual house, Right: The paper diorama

I always ALWAYS forget to photograph these before I put them under glass. Then I have to deal with the ever present glare and reflection of myself in the glass. Erg. Sorry.

Our wonderful friends, the Smileys, hosted our family last May at their house near Washington D.C. It was the tail end of the cherry festival and we had a marvelous time. Lots of monuments visited, trees admired, children indulged, museums wandered through, art appreciated and good food eaten.

This is their long-overdue thank you gift. It had been a while since I had made a diorama, and it was fun to get back into it. The frame is of course the Ribba shadowbox at IKEA. I love those. I have to buy one each time I'm there for fear that one day they'll stop making them.

Do you see where I accidentally bent the grass? I get a pain in my right brain whenever I look at it. I just couldn't bring myself to disassemble and tear it off so I could replace it. As usual, it was the wee hours of the morning. I decided to be ok with it. And I will be. eventually. I gave it to my friend personally this past weekend while we were at a ladies Bible lectureship in Huntsville. And she loved it, so it's all good.

I used a new glue this time, the MS Crafts Fine Tip Glue Pen. I really dug it. It makes gluing on tiny pieces a snap. I'm just crossing my fingers that it holds. I've never used it before and I hate to think of this thing falling apart in a few months.

Now I'm ready to replace the snowy bird diorama that has stayed on my mantel all through the summer. Oy. I so meant to redo that one in the spring. 'Better late than never' is becoming my mantra. I think I should make the new one something that is more year roundish. I have my eye on an Alain Gree forest illustration for my inspiration.

Friday, August 21, 2009

stuff I want to do instead of the stuff I'm doing.

My mind always jumps ahead like five projects when I'm working on one that is currently baffling me. It's so much easier to dream of future perfectly executed projects than to fix the one in my lap.

I wanna...

do stamp carving like her. Actually I want to paint
birds like her too. or paint anything like her.

just make myself a top like her already. she amazes me with her sewing moxy and the fact that what she sews actually looks great on her and is in fact, wearable. That's a hurdle I'm still trying to leap.

make my girls a dress like she did.
How amazing is this woman's sense of design?
answer: pretty amazing.
I have one like it in the works already in my head:
dark denim with a brown Katie Jump Rope print inset.

make another paper diorama collage a la her.
Everything she creates is completely captivating to me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

(sigh of relief) don't look, Lori.

After much angst and re-doing, Lori's messenger bag is {finally} {thankfully} {for betterly or for worsely} done. I have a reasonable expectation that her surprise won't be ruined by this post, because I'm pretty sure none of my family reads my blog. Besides you, Chelsea. ha. I'll be giving this to her in a week or so when I'm in H-town again.

I'm finally pleased with it. My husband has been shaking his head at me for weeks, saying stuff like 'how many hours are you going to sink into this thing anyway?'. He doesn't understand the tortured artistic journey within the soul, obviously. The other night as he watched me rip off the bias binding that I decided I didn't like, he quipped "I sure hope she likes this bag." And I replied sweetly, "IT'S NOT ABOUT HER ANYMORE" as I stabbed the flap with the seam ripper.

Anyhoo, it's done. Why did I line it with green? I think it has to do something with the fact that I cut the lining out at the beginning of the process when there was a completely different flap design and also green bias binding. But I like it. Or maybe that's just the apathy speaking.

I added a little snap key holder on the inside because it is so useful. Also, because it would cover up the unplanned tuck in my lining. I'm happy to report that this snap experience was stress free.

Instead of just trucking along from memory like usual, I tried to follow my own tutorial for the messenger bag to double check it. I didn't deviate from my tutorial to construct this bag except for these three things:
  1. I used bias binding for the flap, so I trimmed off the flap seam allowance to do that. I didn't have to turn the flap.
  2. Since my pockets were not lined with a contrast color this time I cut out one big piece for the pockets and folded it in half to sew together instead of having two separate pieces.
  3. I made the strap a bit longer for my sister, at her request.

The only thing I ran into that I ended up changing on my tutorial was to make the flap .5 inch shorter. I didn't change it for this bag, it works ok if you are careful to measure correctly. Still, the bag flap comes a wee bit too close to the bottom of the bag for comfort, and I thought there should be some room built in for error. That is now changed on the tutorial, so update your flap measurement to 12 x 13.5 inches.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Here's what I did to the dress I wasn't satisfied with. Y'all gave me a bunch of neat ideas and I was torn between gathered pockets and the bib. I went with bib because I've never done one for the girls' dresses and I wanted to try it.

Designing and making the bib was pretty easy. The biggest pain was having to take off the bias binding around the neck and do it over. I tried to convince myself to only lift the binding in the front to tuck the bib under, but it was going to be just as much trouble to do that as to add new binding, so I went with the safe option.

I think it added the needed lil sumpm.
Pockets might still be cute...
But I am done.

Here's what I did, if you are curious.

I laid the dress down, placed a sheet of paper on top, and sketched a bib onto the paper. Then I folded my sketch in half (so it would be symmetrical) and cut out a bib pattern from it.

Then I got a rectangle of fabric large enough for the bib with some room to spare all around. I made sure the fabric was pretty substantial, because I didn't want the loud print to show through the bib. The tucks take up two inches of width, so I made sure to have plenty of extra width. I didn't trace the bib pattern yet, I waited to do that until after I had the tucks sewn.

I drew two vertical lines down the fabric that were 1 inch apart. Then I measured two inches over and drew two more vertical lines one inch apart. So I had 4 lines drawn as guides, with a wider space in the middle for the buttons.

Then I folded the fabric along the first line and pinned it. I sewed a quarter inch all the way down. Then I folded the fabric on the next line, pinned it, and sewed, and so on until I had 4 tucks sewn. I ironed the tucks two facing the left, and two facing the right. Now I was ready for the pattern.

I laid my bib pattern down over the tucked fabric, making sure the tucks were straight and centered with the pattern. Then I traced around the bib pattern and cut it out.

I fabrictac'd the tucks down at the top and bottom in the correct direction so I wouldn't inadvertently move them and sew them down in the wrong direction. It sounds like something I'd do, huh? Then I sewed matching bias binding to the bib on all sides except the part that was to align with the neck.

Now I had to rip off the bias binding from around the neck. You won't be doing this because you have the foresight to include the bib on the dress when you are sewing the dress, and not afterward. ahem.

I pinned the bib down on the dress and made sure it was centered and straight, then I tacked it with fabric glue around the edges here and there to make double sure it wouldn't shift. Then I sewed it on, following the line of the bias binding.

I re-applied the bias binding around the neck.

Lastly, I sewed on the little buttons. Voila. Look at these little bib dresses. Aren't they precious?

Monday, August 10, 2009

anthro tea towel and napkin pillows

tea towel pillow on the left, napkin pillow on the right.

In the tradition of the Anthro placemat pillows, here are two more methods to create home decor from table linens. This is a much more affordable option for me than actually buying the pillows. I drool buckets over most everything in Anthropologie's home decor section but can't get past the price tag, even with the devil on my shoulder.

I really have to give credit for this way of thinking to my bosom friend Robyn, who was the one who showed me years ago how to repurpose placemats into pillows and to use tablecloths for shower curtains and stuff like that. She opened a whole new world for me. I've even used place mats to make a really non-cheesy looking (promise) window valance.

Incidentally, once you are addicted to this method, another great place to get beautiful table linens on sale is here. I had placemat pillows from C&B on my couch for a few years before I made these latest.

Now, on to the particulars, if you'd like to make some pillows like these.

front of the napkin pillow

back of the napkin pillow

For the napkin pillow you need:

  1. a gorgeous square fabric napkin that you scored on sale, 20 x 20 inches. Okay the sale is not strictly necessary, but it is more satisfying.
  2. coordinating fabric for the back, two rectangles that are 20 x 16-ish inches
  3. an existing 18 x 18 inch pillow (don't worry -- this is a removable cover, so you don't have to sacrifice the existing pillow)

Step one: Along ONE long side of both pieces of backing fabric, sew a narrow hem. If you are not familiar with a narrow hem, you just press over 1/2 inch of fabric toward the wrong side along the edge, then fold under half of that again and edgestitch it. I don't bother pressing the second fold, I just fold it under with my finger as I'm sewing it down.

Step two: Lay your napkin down right side up, and align your backing pieces on top of it, right sides down, with the raw edges at the edge of the napkin, and the narrow hems running across and overlapping in the middle of the napkin (your backing pieces overlap to create a slit to stuff your pillow in or take it out again). Pin everything securely. I pinned along the edges of my slit as well, to keep things in place as I sewed.

Step three: Sew all the way around the edge of the square, being sure to backstitch to secure your stitches. It was preferable for me to sew along the inside of the hem that already existed on the napkin so I could save the pretty design in the corners of the napkin. That gave me about a 1/2 seam allowance all around, which yields a cover that is about 19 inches square -- a slightly relaxed fit for an 18" pillow, and no need to trim the excess seam allowance.

If you prefer a snug fit for your cover, sew a scant 1 inch hem all around instead. If you do this method, I recommend you also trim the excess seam allowance and finish the raw edges with overlocking stitches or pinking shears.

Step four: Turn it right side out through the slit and press it. Now stuff it with your existing pillow and admire your pillow makeover prowess.

This method is of course adaptable depending on the size of your napkin and the size of your existing pillow, as long as your napkin is slightly larger than your pillow. If it isn't, you could get really creative and piece some fabric strips around your napkin to make it the right size, now couldn't you? Yes, you could!

front of the tea towel pillow

Or I guess this could be the front of the tea towel pillow. I love both sides.

For the tea towel pillow you need:
  1. a pretty embroidered tea towel that you couldn't resist, and that NO one in their right mind would use to wipe up anything.
  2. floofy ball trim for two sides, optional
  3. bag of polyfil stuffing

Step one: Fold your tea towel in half, aligning the short sides. Cut it in half.

Step two: If you are using ball trim, glue or baste stitch it along the short edges of the right side of one piece, balls turned inward. I used fabric glue.

Step three: Pin the two pieces right sides together, making sure your little poofballs are out of the seam. Beginning in the middle of the bottom long side, sew a quarter inch hem all the way around, leaving about four inches unsewn on the bottom edge for stuffing. Turn it right side out and press.

Step five: Stuff that baby full of polyfil. Use small handfuls of stuffing and make sure you stuff the corners first, then the middle. When the desired firmness is reached, pin the opening closed with the quarter inch hem folded inside and hand sew it together with a whipstitch in coordinating thread. You are done, Pillow Master.

Friday, August 7, 2009

really, Larissa? more fabric? really?

small devil on left shoulder: Ooooh. Look at that one. It's only $5.99/yard. You'll regret it if you don't get some. You love IKEA fabric.

small angel on right shoulder: For shame. Just walk away. You don't NEED anymore fabric. Why did you even come to the textile section? You should leave now.

small devil: But you've never seen this one here before. Feel it. It's mid-weight! Not decor. What a cute skirt it would make.

small angel: This is obscene. Do you remember what your fabric shelves look like? Is this really a smart use of your money? Do you seriously think you will make a skirt for yourself any time soon? And summer is almost over, what do you want with a white fabric? It's totally out of season.

small devil: But you have that dove grey pin dot fabric already. It goes perfectly with it. And you love birds. Wear it next year.

small angel: Look around. There is not one Blueshirt in sight. No one to cut it for you. Ah Ha! See? You have no time to wait around for one to show up either. Look how busy this place is. It's an omen. It clearly means you do not need this fabric. Let's go. Quit dithering. Show some self-control for once.

small devil: Wait! There's someone. They've already seen you hanging around the cutting table. You have to get it now. See, here they come. Don't be rude. Buy something. You need two yards. (triumphant laugh)

(Small angel quits thankless job)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

boy announcement and a swaddler giveaway

(details blurred out for privacy)

I recently revamped the "It's a Girl" card design into "It's a Boy!" for my friend Robyn's little boy announcements. Boy themed things don't usually come naturally to me, so this was a good mental exercise. Maybe because it's All Princesses All The Time here at the Holland home, or maybe it is because I myself come from a family with five daughters and no sons.

I'd like to make it available as a PDF eventually, when I dig out from under my ever-present pile.

I also wanted to mention another happy baby-related item while I'm at it. Blogger and Mom of three, Hannah Stevenson of While They Sleep is launching her Pod Swaddler pattern today and is having a giveaway at her blog to celebrate. Isn't her little be-swaddled Norah cute?

Hurry on over, the giveaway runs through Aug 6th at midnight. Up for grabs is one free Pod Swaddler PDF pattern and tutorial, and also a Pod Swaddler hand made by Hannah. You could get two chances to win, so visit her blog for details.

Monday, August 3, 2009

thing 2's tiered sundress, check

Here's the tiered dress for the youngest. Why isn't it pink, orange and brown? Because I'm easily distracted, that's why. I can't resist greens, blues and citruses together. It's my favorite combo right now.

Here's a side by side comparison. As planned from the previous post, I lengthened the bodice 1.5 inches and took out some of the width in the skirt. Even though I bought plenty of fabric this time (duh), I still cut the tiers 8 inches long (that's less than the pattern) to make up for the added length from the bodice. It fits her like a dream. I like the shape of this version a bit better. The added length on the bodice made her dress a bit longer than big sister's, which is fine. At the rate she's growing, she'll need it (four inches last year).

I made the fabric flower pin a tad different this time. Instead of puckering each layer in the middle and tacking it together, I took tiny tucks in the middle of each petal on only the two largest layers. Just a couple of stitches in each one with the machine to give it some depth. Easy. Then I layered it all together and put in a circle of blue behind the button for some extra pop.

The fabric I chose this time for the dress cost a mere $7. Total. For the whole dress. That is because it is super cheap 60/40 poly-cotton broadcloth. Why? I couldn't find the stinkin colors I wanted in cottons. I needed just the right olive green -- not foresty, not kelly-y, but the perfect dark true olive. I looked at two fabric stores with no luck. Then I stumbled on a huge row of great solid colors in all these scrumptious shades at Hobby Lobby and thought 'Bingo!'.
Then I read the fiber content.
But then I saw the price.
Sold, baby.

Of course, there are things I definitely did not like about the poly blend fabric.
  1. The drape is not as nice and it feels a bit flimsy.
  2. The surface texture is too smooth.
  3. There is no give.
  4. You have to watch the temperature on your iron or it starts to pucker.
  5. And what is UP with the bizarro resistance to pins and needles? It is a huge pain to pin it, the pins just refuse to puncture it half the time. It seems to have a force field around it. Also the machine needle has a tough time punching through. It makes a disconcerting pop each time, and also gets bogged down if it goes through multiple thicknesses.
However, there are things you have to love about it, plastic content or no:
  1. The price, I mean, seriously. It wasn't even on sale.
  2. The color range, all my favorite shades--why can't cotton come in that kind of variety?
  3. Also, this stuff does not unravel much in the wash and comes out wrinkle-free. To me, that is huge. I hate ironing.
  4. Lastly, when you press a hem over, by gum it stays pressed, with a knife edge. It makes a narrow hem so easy to do.

Sorry, this is the best photo I was able to get of Thing 2 sporting her new dress. She was very very VERY grumpy at the time. Then Thing 1 shut her finger in the back door as I was trying to shoot this. We were having one of those days.

I was thinking earlier today about this post and how this is so typical me. To be making sundresses at this point in the waning summer. It's a good thing it will be warm here through September, maybe October. I had all these high hopes and ambitions to make a bunch of summery clothes for the girls and for me too, waaaay back in the spring. I did get some things made, but as usual nothing for me.

(And I'm still wrestling with Lori's bag flap design. Great Scott! Why why whyyyyy won't this flippety thing come together? I've worked for hours on a version that I don't love. But I WILL press on. I WILL like it. And I'm scrapping what I've done so far. Back to the ol' drawing board.)