Wednesday, December 24, 2008

see you next year!

were you naughty or nice?

Merry Christmas, and Happy 2009!

We are heading out to spend some time with family and friends, my favoritest way to celebrate the holidays. That, and eating too much buttery food and drinking too many frothy coffees. Mmmcoffee.

Looking forward to another year of crafting and blogging with you.

God bless us, every one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

stink, stank, stunk!

I can't even be bothered to take a better picture of it.

dingety dangety doo doo!
Remember this, Saddest WIP of All? Well, I finally finished the flippety flappin' thing, which I was so stoked initially about, then got stymied over the sleeves, then got re-inspired to finish sleeveless (after my WIP post).

And of course it does not fit. Not even close. No way someone with my non-expert dressmaking skills (or serious lack of patience) could rip it apart and rectify matters either. Picture me standing in front of the mirror in it, absolutely crestfallen.


So, the Wise Woman might be asking, "Didn't you follow the measurement guide on the pattern cover?" Yes, I did, as a matter of stinkin' fact. Even though the dress size it pointed me to was horrifying.

The Wise Woman might also ask, ''Why didn't you try it on as you went, you eedgit? You know those things are not that accurate." Well, I did! And it seemed to be close to right. But I guess it is hard to really fit it on when you have no zipper in and no one to hold it together for you in the back.

The Wise Woman might also point out at this stage, "Well, don't you have one of those duct tape dress forms? Why didn't you utilize that?" Welllll, you see, it burst again and is currently in the WIPs-I-don't-like-to-look-at pile. So, no.

The Wise Woman would now (wisely) suggest I look on the bright side and take away some lesson learned for future dogged and pathetic attempts to sew myself some clothes.

So, ok. I learned how to sew princess seams. And also to do a bodice lining. Also that any dress that calls for a gathered skirt I can easily convert to one with a few big pleats (gathered waist skirts look ghastly on me). I learned that the sizing chart on the back has nothing to do with the actual size of the finished product, nor is it remotely in sync with the standard dress sizes I wear at the store. Understanding that will at least reduce the frustrating "Well, I followed the rules!" righteous-anger-factor in future trainwrecks. Also I learned that for whatever reason, easing a sleeve cap is beyond my human abilities, and to avoid that at all costs in the future. And lastly, I learned to be fervently, reverently and eternally thankful for readymade.

Friday, December 19, 2008

holiday dresses, check

Hey, thanks everybody for all those birthday wishes! They really made my day. You guys are so nice! It was a stupendous day, starting off with breakfast made for me by Wonder Husband, and hugs, kisses and a card from my wee lasses, and ending with my present from Michael: tickets in January to the new Cirque Du Soleil 'Kooza' and a fancy schmancy dinner out, babysitting already arranged. Yessssss.

On to the actual Post Subject: I surprised myself by finishing the girls' christmas dresses! Yay me! True to form, I was stitching the bindings and buttons on the littlest one's mere moments before they were wearing them out to a holiday luncheon. I am so stinkin pleased with them! I stand in awe of the talented design mavens at Suger City Journal for coming up with this Village Frock. I just adore it.

I had earlier visions of making them from some black and white toile I've had in my sewing room for a few years, but I changed my mind after trolling around flickr and looking at the village frocks on display. Why hide that pretty gathered yoke and sleeves with a loud patterned fabric? The plainer the fabric, the better the dress looked. So I chose some lightweight denim I had bought, and I couldn't be happier. It doesn't scream 'Christmas' but that means they can wear it the rest of the winter.

Construction went really well, and the pattern is well-written and clear, and seems to be sized right on for my girls. I did add some additional length, and omitted one button on the size 4 dress. My only complaint is against myself, Time Management Cripple. I didn't allow myself enough lead time and that made for late nights and frazzled nerves.

So worth it, though. (Note, in order to have simultaneous smiles in the above picture, I had to resort to making rude bathroom noises. Apparently, dignity has no place in parenting)

I didn't really follow their instructions for the bindings, I have a no-crease, no-pain policy for those. I don't fold and iron my bias tape, and I don't usually pin it to sew. I just slap it on right sides together, sew the 1/4 inch seam, then flip it over, tuck under the raw edge, and sew again from the top side in the ditch. It is really easy and has cut down on the tantrums and bulging forehead veins in my craft studio.

I've just had a vision of the forlorn black and white toile as an A-line skirt for myself! And very unrealistic expectations of having it ready for this Sunday. Adding idea to I'm sure you can totally believe, I still have a bunch of ever-lovin' christmas gifts to make! Who needs sleep?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

it's my birthday.

yay! see you on friday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

more felt ornaments

I finally got some better light, so here are some ornaments I made for myself last year. I had so much fun dreaming them up. You can see I like sparkly.

I remembered being very inspired by the 2007 Anthropologie ornaments for my flying bird. I loved how all the colorful embroidery looked on theirs.

The mushroom ornament is ok, but I don't like how the legs look on the bug (kinda curled up like it's dead, ew), but I was too lazy to pick them back out and redo. I guess I could just pick them out and leave it legless.

The elf ornament is still a sad little WIP a year later. I got frustrated because the legs ended up in the wrong place the first time, and I was too lazy to redo the whole body because I had glued the legs in. I see a theme developing here. Maybe the embarrassment over revealing my follow-through problems will inspire me to finish it this year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

felt ornaments I have known

Last year I went a bit crazy planning all these felt ornaments I'd make (pages of drawings), and I actually did make some (remember Chelsea?), but not nearly as many as I wanted. This year, same thing. Only now I have the drawings from last year and new drawings from this year vying for my crafting attention.

Here is the first installment of a felt ornament retrospective from last year. These I already had bad pictures of, and they are no longer in my possession because they were gifts last year. I'll have more next post once I can take some good photos. I can't take any good ones today, it is absolutely dismal here, raining cats and dogs. A great day to be in your pyjamas with a cuppa joe.

This one was for my dinosaur-crazy nephew.

This one for my friend Robyn's fish-crazy son.
Sorry about the lighting, it was in my living room at night.

This one for my friend Robyn's elephant crazy daughter.

With a little recycled box to package them both in. I love these candy cane pipe cleaners!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I've had several crafters ask where to get wool felt, so thought I'd share this resource with you. It is tough to find wool felt in my town, even at the huge craft super stores they only have the occasional bolt in one or two colors. I'm running out of the mother lode of wool felt scraps I found at the thrift store a while back, so I found (aka, Prairie Point Junction) online and gave them a try.

This felt I bought (pictured above) is sold by the 12x18 inch sheet, and is not 100% wool, but a wool/rayon blend which I thought I'd give a try. I love it so far. The colors are beautiful, and it seems to have a nice texture and weight. It is also not as pricey as 100% wool.

I also bought some recently from JCarolineCreative, and really liked it. She has a nice selection of 100% wool and also wool blends, which she sells by the yard and also by the fat quarter.

If you'd like to read more, I also found this helpful post on Old School Acres comparing wool, wool blend, and acrylic felts, with more links to sources.

Monday, December 8, 2008

it's looking like christmas around here

Hello again!
Craft party and no pumpkins in the yard, accomplished.
Coffee and mulled cider, swilled.
Thousands of calories, devoured.
Bird ornaments, mostly done.
Pomanders, completed.
One hot flash, endured (not by me, but if you have a grouping of women, you can count on at least one of these).
Laughter, good natured ribbing, and even pomander missile launching, experienced.
Company of friends and Christmasy ambiance, thoroughly and utterly enjoyed.
(Pictures were taken, but not sure I can share them here, they'd probably kill me)

I gathered materials for us to make Betz White's pomanders, except I had no felted wool and no time to thrift sweaters, so we made them from felt and they turned out fine, except with smaller rosettes. I'd possibly go with a smaller styro ball in future to compensate. I also offered up a couple of bird ornament patterns, one I designed and also a very cute owl ornament pattern by Anna Maria Horner (via Craftzine). There were also the options of 1) bringing your own WIP and 2) just coming for the food.

Michael was safely miles away from the hen party. My two little lasses were home and so super good, having a little party of their own all tucked up in their beds watching Mary Poppins as a treat (I transported a TV in there for the occasion, which they thought was so cool), and occasionally wandering into the kitchen in their flannel jammies to get cookies and hugs, and offer to help with crafts.

Now I'm disappointed it is over and I need to plan another one.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

too. much. to. do.

There's the looming craft party at my house on friday, and me just in from out of town with mounds of laundry, no christmas decor up and pumpkins still sitting in the front yard. Ack!

Just pretend this is a really stunningly photographed and inspiring tutorial of some kind.

Monday, December 1, 2008

experimenting with paper/fabric ornaments

I hope one and all had a great Thanksgiving! I am theoretically on the road back home as this is posting.

I saw an ornament tutorial here that was supposed to be for creating ornaments using a 4x6 photo, and I thought it would be cute using fabric and paper.

I used spray adhesive to glue two different fabrics to cardstock. Then I cut the cardstock into 1/2" x 4" strips of each color.

Then I punched holes in the ends and threaded one end of alternating colors onto a piece of wire that I had looped and strung with one decorative bead. After which I discovered I put too many blue strips on (like in the photo), so I took one back off. You want the same number of each color so you don't get two of the same color right next to the other. Then I put more beads on the wire, then the other end of the strips, then another bead and snipped off the wire and finished with a loop.

I was not thrilled with the result because the strips of paper/fabric I used were too thick. When they are stacked together it makes quite a bit of thickness, so the ornament is not perfectly round, it is a bit wonky, see above. I guess to solve this I could try using thinner paper next time and skipping the fabric, but that might mean a fairly flimsy ornament.

I made another one and this time instead of punching holes in each end and stacking them, I glued the ends symmetrically around a paper circle that I had punched a bitty hole in, then did the same on the other end. I looped the end of some pipe cleaner I had, added a bead, and a punched flower, then fed it through both circles.

I squashed the ornament to be the desired roundness and then flowered, beaded and looped the other end. This one is better because is it not wonky, although it is messier to make with all the glue involved. I may try this again with staples instead of glue and see what I get. Also the inside is not very interesting all in white. It would look even better to incorporate some color on the other side of the strips. Back to the drawing board!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

quilted christmas ornaments

Not really quilted, it just looks that way. My sister Leigh showed me how to make these, and one Christmas we got a little obsessed with them. It is addictive, and once you have the materials ready, it goes quickly.

This is a no sew project, even though it doesn't look it. All you need are styrofoam balls, ribbon, hot glue or fabritac, flat head straight pins (LOTS), ball head straight pins, and a bunch of little fabric squares. Most of the work is cutting your fabric squares (great use for your scraps or charm squares). Or if you are me, obsessing over which fabrics to use. My sister and I preferred the random fabric method, but you can make it look more symmetrical (and less time consuming) by using the same fabric for each tier.

I looked around for an existing tute because I didn't want to reinvent the wheel. I found this one, and it seems to be the only one out there (?). My sister and I used the same method she outlines.

I also found this pattern for sale on ebay by accident, if you find you need more details than the online tutorial provides. (Buy at your own risk, I can't vouch for the pattern because I haven't seen it!)

I'll say goodbye for now and I wish a very happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans. No new posts until next week. I plan on packing in as much turkey and sides as possible, and being very thankful to God for the countless blessings in my life. I'll also be enjoying time with family we don't see very often. And trying to sneak in some crafting. See you next week!

Monday, November 24, 2008

goodbye, sweet little girls

We have some great friends who are moving to St. Louis soon, despite our repeated begging, and they going to be greatly missed. Kev and Jess have four little girls, ranging in age from five on down to two mos. I thought I'd make each wee girl a little modified Black Apple doll to remember us by. Jess, if you are at your mom's looking at these pics, surprise! They're done. (I had already shown Jess the WIPs)

I was originally going to make them all blonde, like the real little lasses, but realized they'd be more fun in different colors and easier to tell apart. Ahem. Also I didn't have enough yellow felt.

I redrew my disastrous body pattern from before and made the arms thicker and longer, so this time it worked ok. I also remembered to sew the legs up before I cut them out (this works great!) so the legs aren't as skinny.

I stuffed the arms first and then I stitched a joint at the shoulder and stuffed the rest. I also sewed the girls' initial on the dolls so there would be no mistaking who is who's. Growing up with four sisters I learned early to mark my stuff. However all our names begin with L, so I had to spell it out.

On an unrelated but much sweeter note, Bake It Pretty is having a gift certificate giveaway to celebrate the Vintage Village cupcake decorating kits she's selling for the holidays. Check it out!

Shopkeeping note: I'll be out of town this weekend for Thanksgiving, so if you purchase a Katy pattern from the shop, it will be a few days until you get it via email. I'll be gone Nov 27-Dec 1.

Friday, November 21, 2008

viking love from Herzensart

Image by Herzensart

Image by Herzensart

I'm swooning today for these wonderful Viking and Knights Templar softies created by the immensely talented Sandra Monat, apparently with vital assistance from her blue sheep, Friederike!. Her work made the cover of Whipup's new calendar, and that's where I found the link.

I've just spent an entranced half an hour trolling through her blog and website, which pegged the meter on my inward Creative Envy Gauge.

What a kickin' gift idea for the poor, neglected, handmade softie-less boys in your life. And of course she has some girl stuff too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Sorry, Robyn. I totally Aunt Clara'd on month five of our Great 5x5 Exchange. So, here in month six, which is better than month seven, is my final installment to you of our 25 charm square exchange.

And, um. Do you have a little something you need to send to me?

The above was Robyn's fine selection sent to me for the month of September. Which arrived on time, unlike mine to her. I especially love that Denyse Schmidt County Fair fabric.

And at long last, here is my selection to her for October. Although it's now November. All of which are snippets from my trip to the warehouse sale.

Monday, November 17, 2008

smile. no, put the barbie down for just a minute. yoohoo, look at mommy! no, come back! ok, smile. gah! get your finger out of your nose, etc...

Why do other people beget children who smile winningly on cue for multiple pictures and I got these people? With Christmas card season upon us, here is a handy article on how best to snap some good ones of your cuties.

Friday, November 14, 2008

it's not even my birthday

I found a little present buried between two huge binders on my craft shelves. It's a sewing pattern magazine I bought waaaay back when I was in the Netherlands last fall. It was placed there for safe keeping and promptly forgotten. Robyn, doesn't that little model on the cover look like lil' A to you?

I'm pretty excited to have unearthed it, I forgot how cute all the little clothes are, and this will be a bit easier to work with than my Japanese pattern book because I can guess what some of it says, and when I'm stumped I can resort to Babel Fish.

If I'm reading it correctly, it has 32 different patterns. Great gophers! The pattern pages are a huge tangly jumble, but thankfully color coded, unlike my Japanese book (which I still love and adore, but which scares me).

Look at this little poof-sleeved jacket! I guess if I would only organize my craft train wreck a bit more often, I wouldn't miss out on cool stuff like this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

well, it took me long enough.

Finally finally finally. Katy Kitty's PDF format pattern is available in my new etsy shop. Hopefully in time for you to make some for gifts. As a bonus, I'll include the double-breasted coat and scarf PDF pattern I just finished for her.

The coat and scarf will also fit your Molly Monkeys! Also exchangeable are the shirt details and the shoes, which will go fine with either pattern.

Thanks as always for your interest and inquiries and encouragement. You guys are the best.