Friday, April 29, 2011

we are fine

Hi, everybody. I've been glued to the storm coverage just like a lot of people. In our particular part of metro Atlanta, we got socked with a scary looking and sounding storm (that kind of ominous lightning that never lets up, just flashes constantly), strong winds and rain, but no property damage and no injuries to ourselves. There was a lightning strike near my MIL's house, and she said it sounded like a bomb went off.

My family in Alabama was not so lucky. I spoke with my Mom and sisters in Huntsville. They say north Alabama is without power, and will be for several days. There's limited gas available, and cars are lined up for hours. Refrigerators and freezers full of food are going to waste. My Aunt Georgia's house in Cullman took a direct hit from the tornado, but the group in her basement, including my Dad, who had just arrived, are all ok. Thank you to God!

My heart goes out to those families who were not so lucky, and who suffered terrible loss and destruction in these storms.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

this year's easter dresses

 Very distantly related to vintage Simplicity 7563

We had a lovely Easter. I hope you all did too. It was gorgeous weather here, not too hot. And I fit into an awesome dress that I bought seven years ago and still love, so that was a bonus. 

I always seem to end up making the girls' dresses at the last minute. It's becoming a dysfunctional tradition. I do work better under pressure, but it makes for some bad moments. (Like when your model goes to bed before you are finished and you have to guess how to closely to fit the dress. That kind of thing.)

I really struggled with inspiration this year. None of the patterns I had on hand excited me. I just didn't know what I wanted to make. Then as the time whittled away to a couple of days I just settled on whipping out another two simple sleeveless shifts like I made last year, in some loud fabric.

I had this Amy Butler Lotus on hand in the stash (which I love and had intended for myself, but that's another thing that gets put aside when you wait 'til the last minute), so I altered the neckline, armholes and hem more to my liking and made the shifts.

And they looked like tent dresses. Then I remembered that I had to take out a huge amount of width last year to make them more fitted. So that is when I came up with the button tabs for this year's version. They worked a lot better than I thought they would to give the otherwise shapeless dresses a little fitted waistline. I really love them!

This shows the backs. Regular zippers for closure. I put two darts in the back of the oldest's dress, just for some shaping. The bias binding was just the cheap store bought kind. Not very soft, but hopefully the color will retain its brightness better than cotton. And hopefully not bleed all over the fabric. I'm a little scared to wash these.

Left dress: How is it that I managed to cut both back pieces in almost the exact place within the repeat of the fabric? And then didn't notice it until it was sewn together? AGAIN?

The hems were made like the Oliver + S Lazy Days skirt hem. I love that method, it makes such a neat finish. Only instead of ribbon I used single fold bias tape. Then another row of single fold tape above it just for looks.

Some action shots during the egg hunt at my in-law's. You can see that Thing 1's dress made its debut Sunday without the extra border above the hem. I was tired, people. And I figured since the fabric was so loud and busy, it didn't need it. But my daughter gently pointed it out to me and asked me why her sister's dress got two borders and hers only had one. So. I added that to the dress on Monday.

I finished both dresses about 11 pm or so on Saturday night, which gave me plenty of time to make some other stuff to put in the girls' easter baskets. Ha ha.

Like these matching headbands to go with their dresses. I'm so glad I was seized by the impulse a while back to buy some of Jessica's beautiful jacquard ribbon, because it leapt out at me as I was standing there at midnight trying to decide what kind of (hopefully quick) hair doololly to make.

I sewed the jacquard ribbon to a length of grosgrain ribbon for backing and added some elastic. Voila. They worked great. I was really surprised how well they stayed in. This kind never stays on my head, it always slips off the back.

And then because sleep is for quitters, I also made these tie-on bunny ears for their Beanie Babies. Easy, just white and pink felt with pipe cleaners inside for bendability and a ribbon tie. Everything is cuter with bunny ears.

Monday, April 25, 2011

That's right. I'm not from Texas.

But Texas wants me anyway. (Great, now I can't get that song out of my head!)

I can't believe I get to GO to this (as a consumer that is, not a vendor!). WITH my bosom friend! Oh, man, we are going to have so much fun! And eat Indian food! And laugh! And swill coffee and snarf sweets at regular intervals. And look at cool arty stuff. And talk about arty stuff. And buy arty stuff. And log away ideas. And look at interestingly attired people. And punch each other when we see crafters we idolize. Fun fun fun fun fun! If you go, I'll be the one walking around looking beatific.

Go here to see Robyn's photos from the trip they made to Austin last year. Just looking at all the cool places she visited gives me a to-do list as long as my arm.

Friday, April 22, 2011

make a ruffle circle pillow sham

This is a reprint of a guest post at Kojo Designs' The Sincerest Form Of Flattery series. Enjoy!

Hi, folks! I'm Larissa Holland of mmmcrafts and I like to make stuff and drink coffee. A lot. I'm a graphic designer turned home-schooling mom, and being creative really helps* to keep me sane. I have a shop where I sell my sewing and papercut patterns and the occasional finished piece. You can find a wide variety of crafts on my blog. I like to try new things, but I mainly squander large amounts of free time on papercuts, cards, felt crafts, and of course sewing clothing, accessories and gifts.
*no guarantee implied

I'm happy to be a part of this Sincerest Form of Flattery series. Most times when I attempt to recreate something from the retail world it is due to one or both of the following reasons:
1) I cannot possibly afford the staggering price tag
2) The item I am lusting after does not quite fit my needs (i.e. color, size, etc...)

In some instances, I think good design is just worth paying for. For me, the price/value is on a sliding scale with ease/cost of replication. For example, I recently purchased this Pintuck duvet cover for our bedroom from West Elm. I love and adore it, and just thinking about trying to make something similar to it gave me hives. It was easily worth the purchase price.

image from West Elm

On the other hand, I elected to make something similar to their wonderful Ruffled-Circle pillow shams:

Image from West Elm

I thought it would be a great look to complement my youngest daughter's new duvet cover, however, I wasn't sure the WE white would match it, I didn't like the way the ruffled circle is cut in half on the West Elm standard sham, and the european sham is the wrong size. So, I stared at their photos for a while and made my own version:

Here we go: West Elmish Ruffled Circle Pillow Sham How-To:

First I grabbed an existing pillow sham from my daughter's bed and measured it. It was 25 x 20 inches. Then I hopped on my favorite design tool, my Mac. I drew a layout to size like so:

Next step was to root around in my fabric shelves to find some likely looking white fabric. Allowing for a half inch seam, I cut the following pieces:
  1. Two 21 x 26 inch rectangles for the front (one for the top, and one for the backing) and also a piece of cotton batting to match
  2. One 21 x 22 inch rectangle for the envelope back
  3. One 21 x 12 inch rectangle for the other side of the envelope back
I pressed the edges of the two envelope back pieces over half an inch, then another half an inch and sewed it down to create a finished edge. I set them aside.

Next was a boatload of bias cut strips for the ruffled circles. (Bias cut because there was no way I was going to finish the edges. Raw bias strips don't fray a lot). I laid my yardage on the floor and pulled a corner over like so:

Then I cut along that fold. This new cut edge was on the bias. Then I cut 2 inch strips from those bias edges until I had what looked like a really ridiculous amount. Turns out 225 inches was not even enough to complete the larger ruffle circle, so I had to cut more. (How much you need may vary depending on how tightly you ruffle the strips, but more about that in a minute.) I figured 2 inches wide would allow for the strips to fray a bit in the wash and still look fluffy. If you look closely at the West Elm photos, I'm pretty sure their strips were not that wide. You can vary it as you like.

I sewed all my bias strips together end to end. Here's how you do that:

Ok. This is where your results may vary. I used my ruffler attachment to gather the strips. I didn't want to hand gather a strip that long because, well, I hate gathering. With every fiber of my being. If you have a ruffler attachment, by all means dust it off and put it on. This is where it shines, man.

I used a stitch length of 2.5 and the 6 setting on the ruffler (meaning a tuck is taken every 6 stitches). Then I just fed the strip through and watched it do all the pretty tucks for me. One thing you want to keep an eye on is the needle itself. It can work loose after a little while from the action of the ruffler and you don't want it to fall out mid-stitch. Like I did.


So you don't have a ruffler? You can cheat too. You can use a gathering foot, or if you don't have one of those you can experiment on a test strip by increasing your stitch length and tightening the tension until your machine is making gathers by itself as you sew. It will really help if your bias strips are a lightweight fabric.

After ruffling all the strips I pressed them in half along the seam.

Next step was to assemble the sham top. I used my fancy compass (from a drafting course in college) with a pencil lead in it to draw concentric circles in position on the sham top piece, like so:

Each nested circle is an inch apart from the next. Then I also drew in my quilting lines with an air soluble marker. I sandwiched the batting between the sham top and the sham top backing, pinned (a lot), and sewed along the quilting lines only, working from the center outward. (Do not sew the concentric circles).

I used fabric glue to tack down the center seams of the ruffled strips to the concentric circles. Beginning with a tight circle in the center, I worked my way around and outward. I tucked the end under when I completed the circle.

Then I used the machine to stitch each ruffled circle in place.

Now to put it all together. First I squared up the sham top. Then I aligned the envelope back pieces right sides together to the sham top and pinned. Using a half inch seam, I sewed all the way around.

Lastly I snipped the corners, turned it, stuffed it with a pillow and viola! The West Elmish look I wanted for her new bed.

I have to say, after making this sham with the 14 miles of bias strip to ruffle, the WE version looked a lot more attractive, and according to my sliding scale I think the $30+shipping they want for their sham is a pretty fair deal.

But having said that, the one I made still wins with me because 1) it's the style/exact color I wanted, 2) I was able to make it from my stash in more durable fabric for zero dollars, 3) it is something special from her mom that my daughter loves!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

by order of the management


I got the tipoff about artist John Golden from my BFF. I had not seen his etsy shop, but when she sent me the link I fell in love. She just finished using his By Order of The Management prints in her kids' bathroom redo, and so I had to copy her and hang them in my kids' bathroom too. It's ok. We live in different states. I have full permission to totally rip off any decor idea she has. It's how I get my best stuff.

Sorry for the ick photos. Pictures in the bathroom are a booger. It is a small, narrow space, and I ended up climbing on top of the sink counter and into the bathtub. The lighting is akin to a bat cave. You get the idea though. 

John has a huge selection of clever signs in this series, so it was difficult to narrow it down to four. He also sells precut mats for the signs, and it was so totally worth it not to have to cut my own. He signs each print, and he even mounted them in the mats for me so all I had to do was plunk them in the 11x14 frames, which I found on the cheap at Michaels.

I sure need to freshen up that shelf. It's a couple of hobnail milk glass vases and Thing 1's flower girl basket that I stuck up there for lack of a better idea. It needs something. Maybe I should just ask Robyn to decorate a similar shelf and send me a photograph.

Funny about that shower curtain, both me and Robyn fell in love with it and bought it about the same time. But then she took hers back and totally one-upped me by sewing a much lovelier curtain a la AMH. The nerve.

P.S. I wanted to thank you guys for the lovely response to the needle books! I will make more, but it might be a few weeks. I apologize to those who didn't snag the one they wanted! I will try to figure out a better/more fair way to get the word out.

Monday, April 18, 2011

needle books now in the shop!

Note: Top row, third and fourth from the left, are reserved.

Two posts in one day! Just thought I'd give a shout about the shop update. Maybe your needles need a cozy, handmade place to hang out? If so, hop to the shop.

Spring Board Winner!

Through the magic of random number pickery, Rachel of Nest Full of Eggs is the new owner of the Gramma Wolfie Doll! Rachel, contact me and we'll get your prize in the mail.

And to answer some of your questions, yes, this will be a pattern, and also there will be a Little Red doll pattern. Soon. Ish. Soon-like. Well, as soon as I can.

 My Heather doll, a small Raggedy Ann made by my Mama Graham,
and my big Raggedy Ann.

Thanks everyone for sharing your favorite dolls and doll memories. I had some great laughs from them, especially the stories featuring evil older brothers. I started feeling really nostalgic about my two dolls and wondering what ever happened to them, and then it dawned on me they are both in my cedar chest. Duh! I went and dug them out and was really embarrassed at the sad shape and the dirtiness. At this point, I can't even wash them because I'm afraid they'll fall apart. The feet on my Raggedy Ann are split like that because I always walked her around by holding her in front of me and kicking her feet in unison with mine. I will have to make her some tight fitting booties or something to keep her stuffing from coming out.

See, my Raggedy Ann also had a heart that said "I love you" on her chest. My next-to-me sister and I both got one at the same time, and when she ripped the face on hers I remember she kept trying to pass it off as mine. Or was that our Snoopy dolls? If I have trust issues, I blame you, Libby. :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

more needle books

Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.

This new batch is finished! I had a great time picking out new color combos and trying some different things.

They are all handmade of wool and wool-blend felts, and the covers have been fortified with fabric stiffener to make them a bit more durable. They each have a loop for hanging, and a button/string closure. Inside are four felt pages for parking your needles.

I'll be listing them in the shop, hopefully by Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Board: What big eyes you have, Gramma. And should you be drooling like that?

Comments are now closed! Thanks so much!

"Oh! It's so good to see you, dear little Red. My, you've grown. Wait here just a moment, I have to put away my knitting." (Pinches cheek)


"Okay, I'm back. Yes, it's VERY VERY good to see you, little girl. Come here. Give Gramma a biiiig hug." (Licking chops)

Hi, Everybody! Isn't this a hoot? A warm welcome to all first timers who are here via Knitty Bitty's Spring Board. It's Wednesday and that is my day to reveal what I made with the Spring Board pack! You've already seen the awesome handmade goodness and giveaways that were revealed on Monday and Tuesday, right? Be sure to visit to each Board Member's blog to get in on their fabulous giveaways all this week.

To sum up about the Spring Board concept: a group of creative bloggers each received a package containing two fat quarters, rickrack, a cotton doily, a square of unbleached cotton and a spring challenge: Imagine something up, make it, blog it and give it away!

So, you guys knew I was going to make a doll, right? When I saw the polka dot print, rickrack and the doily that settled it. Just perfect for a two-faced doll. I couldn't help myself, even though it will hurt to give her away.

Gramma is on one side, telling you to have another cookie, and Wolfie is on the other side, squeezing your arm to test for tenderness.

The doll was made using most of the items from the Spring Board stack, along with some odds and ends from my stash. Gramma's face is the unbleached cotton, with wool-blend felt nose and hair, safety eyes, and stitched details. I snipped the doily to make her shawl after I reinforced it with stitches so it wouldn't fall apart after snipping.

Her feet are some thrifted corduroy. There's the rickrack around the bottom of the dress.

On the wolfie side, the big blue safety eyes look kind of wall-eyed and a little crazed. Which I guess is pretty normal for a hungry wolf. Wolfie's face is made of some thrifted gray cotton and felt odds and ends.

Gramma Wolfie's arms (both sets) are appliqued felt. She's stuffed with polyfil. The only thing I didn't use was the green plaid print, which will be joining my stash for future creative endeavors.

It was a fun challenge and of course I enjoy bringing anything from folk tales to life. All she needs is a little Red doll to sit next to her. That's where YOU come in, my friend. Because if you make one comment below, you will be entered in the giveaway to win this Gramma Wolfie doll for your very own, and then you can challenge yourself to sew her up a little Red friend. Winner will be announced on April 18th!

It would be nice to hear what your favorite childhood doll was too. Mine? It was a tie between my oversize Raggedy Ann and my Heather doll (you remember Heather: best friend to Holly Hobbie).

Many thanks to Fabric Shoppe for sponsoring the event and providing the materials, along with some extra fabric! Be sure to visit her shop for some great fabric deals.

And get ready to see what Gussy Sews has to reveal tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

enough about you. let's talk about me.

If you would like to know more about what makes me tick and get in on yet another giveaway (yes, I know, you are thinking it's almost too many giveaways and enough with the giveaways already), visit SewSpoiled's blog for her interview with me and then enter the giveaway for four chances at a Baby Binky Bunny Pattern! If you already know that I'm kind of a crafting loony, then you can skip the interview and just enter the giveaway. Feel free to taunt me in the comments.

P.S. It's the last two days for the HAPPY3RD coupon in the shop! Be sure to take advantage of the 20% discount before EOD tomorrow.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

get ready for the spring board

Image via Knitty Bitties

Do you need a creative kick in the pants? Get ready for a week of inspiration and some crazy good giveaways. Spring Board is a week-long creative collaboration of bloggers and is the brainchild of Knitty Bitties' Andrea Taddicken, a talented sewer and etsy shop owner. The kick-off is this weekend, and Monday the fun begins in earnest.

The gist: Each member of the board (including myself) was gifted with the pretty pack of fabric and notions you see above (sponsored by the good folks at Fabric Shoppe). What we created with it was limited only by our imagination. I do love a challenge. And, wait for it...each item will be given away to one lucky reader. So there will be seven chances for you to win a lovely, handmade item for your very own, but limitless opportunities for you to be inspired. Visit Knitty Bitties for the details, and check back with her each day this coming week to see the next reveal intro.

Well, I can just hear your craft gears clink-clinking. What would you make with the kit? If you would like a chance to win a lovely tied-up stack just like it and find out, hurry over to Knitty Bitties to meet the other members of the board enter her kick-off giveaway today. (Giveaway will end Monday, April 11th at 12AM {MST})

Friday, April 8, 2011

duvet cover reveal

You guys will be happy to know you won't hear me whining about sewing these two duvet covers anymore.

I'm very happy with how both of the covers turned out, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 just love them (it's a good thing too). They are so bright and cheerful in their room. Best of all, these things are OUT of my craft room. Yesss. Huge weight off my Towering Guilt Pile of Unfinished Projects.

I also sewed up a ruffled pillow sham (the subject of a tutorial coming soon) and the other pillow sham was purchased and then festooned with handmade yo yos.


On a whim I also sewed a couple of quick swiss dot pillow cases to go with the new stuff. I also would like to make a couple of cute accent pillows as finishing touches, but I haven't worked around to that yet. It's on the list.