Thursday, December 24, 2009

may it be bright

(Note: This design is now the Snow Bird PDF pattern, available for instant download in my shop.)

Four posts in four days. Nice way to wrap up 2009. This bird ornament has been a WIP since last Christmas. I finally put on the finishing touches a few days ago.

May your bright holiday be filled with the love of Christ, of family, and some really fattening snacks. A very merry Christmas to all, and a happy, happy new year. Thank you so much for supporting my often angst-ridden ramblings and craftings. I'll see you all in 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Wow, two posts in two days for me. Cah-raaaazy. Happy Birthday, Jamie! You sweetie.

We were in a paper snowflake mood here after watching Elf. During the movie, I find myself getting really distracted from the antics by the profusion of snowflakes and paper chains Buddy festoons everywhere he goes.

So we made a bunch and taped them up everywhere in honor of the first day of winter. You can make some too with these great templates at Yarn Owl (via How About Orange). Print them at whatever size you like. All you do is fold on the dotted lines and cut out the black areas, and poof, a beautiful snowflake.

I found myself wanting to experiment with other shapes, so I also created this blank template (click here to download). With the hexagonal shape it is pretty easy to make an impressive snowflake with even very simple cutouts. Like this:

1) cut out the hexagon

2) fold in half

3) fold in half again

4) fold twice more on the dotted lines until you have this wedge

5) if you like, draw your shapes in pencil before you cut. Or just wing it.

6) cut out your shapes

7) unfold. poof! pretty snowflake.

The hardest part for kids is cutting through the thickness of the paper after it is folded. Little hands may need some help cutting. After a while, my girls also enjoyed just letting me do the cutting, then unfolding the snowflakes to reveal their shapes. That's the really fun part after all.

It occurred to me that this could also make a nice last-minute handmade gift for someone on your list. Neatly cut out a particularly spectacular snowflake, iron it flat, then mount it inside a nice frame with some pretty paper or fabric as the background. And there you go. Christmas decor.

Or, snowflake cards! Ooh. Or snowflake embellished stockings! Ooh! Or snowflake appliques on dresses! I could go on and on.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

tooth pillow improvement

Hey, everybody! I've been to physical therapy and we did all kinds of cool but sinister-sounding things like electrodes and traction. My neck is on the mend, and this Thanksgiving all my thanks go to the good Lord for answered prayers. And to you, for your prayers and good wishes! More PT after Thanksgiving for me, and I'm looking forward to it.

I did squeeze in this tiny bit of crafting for a sweet little five year old's birthday party. I assure you it was quite moderate compared with the mondo crafting I wanted to do. I thought I'd share it with you since I added an improvement that will make it more durable.

When you make the Tooth Pillow from my pattern, after you mark the line for the mouth but before you cut the slit, machine stitch all the way around it with matching thread, close to the line. See the stitching around the mouth in the photo above? This will prevent the mouth from stretching from repeated use. You can also used this method with the slit you need to cut in the back for turning. It makes things look neater with less stretching. The PDF pattern has also been updated with this change (and can be found here).

Well, there you have it. Just a small thing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday all you United States citizens, wherever you may be.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the winners are...

(rustling of envelopes)

Amy, who has made an Atlanta Braves themed Molly and would like to add a Mikey,


darlinroz, who's in it for the shoes. Darlinroz, I need your email address!

(falling confetti)

(pinwheeling spotlights)

Well, congratulations you two! I'll be emailing you the patterns soon.

A huge HUGE thank you to everyone who commented and also for your support in my shop for the patterns. It blew me away! Happy holiday crafting.

Don't forget the pattern sale is on through Monday, 20% off the regular price of Katy Kitty, Baby Binky Bunny and Mikey Monkey.

P.S. On a sad note (for me), I have injured my neck and time spent on the computer or sewing seems to aggravate it. SIGH. SIIIIIIIGHH. I'm praying for healing and patience. Until the neck is better, I won't be crafting or posting as often! I'm going to have to learn moderation, which is very difficult for me when it comes to Precious and crafting. I'll miss it, and I'll miss you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mikey Monkey, a sale and a giveaway

Wow, thanks everybody! Comments are now closed for the giveaway.

Mikey Monkey is now in the shop! Above is the first page of the 15-page boy-centric Mikey Monkey PDF pattern. It includes color pictures, step-by-step detailed instructions, a boatload of illustrated diagrams for each step, and of course, the pattern pieces. I've learned a few things since I wrote the Molly pattern, and I've made some adjustments here and there for easier assembly.

I hope this is in plenty of time for your Christmas makings. If you already have the Molly pattern but would love to make the boy version and these accessories without all the guess-work, then this pattern is for you!

Here is the basic Mikey, above.

He has two options for his Look. One is the more debonair tie/collar combo, paired with a jaunty newsboy hat, above.

The other fashion option is a striped t-shirt with a baseball cap, for the more casual monkey on-the-go.

Here's the back of the cap.

And included also with the pattern is a pirate play set, with pirate hat, sword and eye patch. Arrrr!

And of course, the tennis shoes. And if Molly wants to play, go ahead and let her! All Mikey's accessories fit her too.

To mark the debut of the Mikey pattern, I am also having my first ever sale at the shop. All my softie patterns will be 20% off until Monday the 23rd.

And oh, yes. I nearly forgot. I'd like to celebrate by giving away two Mikey patterns! If you are interested, leave ONE comment with your email address on this post. I'll be giving the patterns away via random number generator first thing on November 18th. See you back here then.

P.S. If your monkey makin' won't wait until Wednesday and you want to get started with the pattern, I can refund you the purchase price if you should be one of the lucky winners!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Aye, hand o'er the bananasss and no one gets strapped t'the masthead. Arrrr

So, so close on the Mikey Monkey pattern. Finishing up some fun options/accessories for him, including the pirate playset you see here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

what I'm up to

Working on the Mikey pattern variation. I'm hoping to have it done by the firstish of November, but won't hold my breath. My grand-nephew Tucker, for whom I made the original Mikey, was just born a few days ago and I can't wait to go cuddle him. Might have to sneak off with the girls and go to Huntsville for some newborn baby love.

Hello, world! My name is Tucker!
I'm four hours old. Count my chins!

I had to share this picture of him. It was taken on a phone in a darkened room, hence the image quality. This is about 4 hours after he was born, in the arms of his very happy grandmother and my older sister, Leigh.

So now you can see the impossible cute factor we are dealing with here. And he is a hoss, in the grand tradition of our family. 9 lbs and 10 oz at birth. And just as kissable as he can possibly be. We love you Tucker! Congratulations, sweet Erin and Nathan.

I just realized 'tucker' means 'food' if you are in Australia, right? Well, that fits. Ha!

We went to our local county fair over the weekend, which was 1) cold 2) muddy 3) rinky dink, and yet conversely 4) really expensive. Somehow we missed the fabulous state fair in Perry, due to my poor planning. There's always next year!

(if I close my eyes, I am not here)

Can you tell Thing 2 was not a big fan of this ride? That's big sis behind us flying solo. I'm wearing my favorite crocheted scarf, courtesy of Robyn. Man I need to learn to crochet.

Y'all have a lovely weekend. And happy All Hallows Eve!

Monday, October 19, 2009

mushroom avoidance crafting

I was having a family of six over for dinner Saturday. So at 2pm I made this when I should have been showering/cleaning/cooking.

Everything was done in time, so all's well that ends well. And I had something cute on my mantel.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

robyn's messenger bag

I can share this now that Robyn has received her package with this and some other tiny goodies. I knew I wanted to make something fall(ish) for a girl with a September birthday. I was thinking this could be used to hold a few diapers, wipes, wallet, and chewy keys for some hands-free shopping.

I'm happy to say the construction of this one was much less tortured and plagued with mistakes. Came right together with minimal angst over color (it's like Jamie's with a different color combo). The bag is a really dark olive gray and I lined it with a mustardy yellow. I think the flap colors work ok, maybe a bit brighter than I was shooting for, but I was happy with it in the end.

I actually had an overabundance of ideas this time. There were 3 color combos all vying for my attention and I actually pieced the flap design for another one, but decided it was too summery looking for a September birthday. It will just have to wait for another occasion.

I decided to add some interest on the strap with some channel stitching this time. I love the look of contrast stitching, but it really lays the pressure on to be flawless with the sewing, and I can never manage it. Robyn, don't look too closely!

I also decided to make a little zippered pouch for it and I used this excellent tutorial to make one with french seams. I pieced it in the same colors as the bag with an orange interior.

If you'd like to make a messenger bag too, you can use my basic messenger bag tutorial here. Flap design is all you, though! Go crazy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

hey, Mikey!

(Let me say a huge THANK YOU for the prayers and well-wishes for my flu-riddled girlies. They are doing MUCH better, no fevers, and now they are bored and stir crazy, always a good sign. H1N1 seemed pretty much like any other flu, 'cept maybe higher fevers and shorter lived. Michael and I are still feeling well, so thank you, Lord!)

Here's my version of a boy Molly Monkey. I've seen several really nice ones in the flickr pool, including ties and overalls and tennis shoes, and one kind reader even took the trouble to send me the instructions for a boy monkey she did herself!

I tend to be girl-centric with my crafting, for obvious reasons, but as it happens my beautiful niece, Erin, is having a baby boy in October. Here was the perfect opportunity to develop the Mikey Monkey I've had patiently waiting in my brain almost since I made the Molly Monkey for Thing 2.

I had a lot of fun coming up with these tennis shoes. I modeled them after the Converse-like shoes I drew for Robyn's baby announcement. Michael saw them and said, "Tennis shoes...with a shirt and tie?" But that's just how Mikey rolls. Oops, I think I still see some purple disappearing marker on the shoe. I was on a tight deadline, as usual.

Close-up of his shirt and tie. These are Erin's nursery colors, and the I think the tie fabric is also included in the baby quilt that her talented mom (my sister Leigh Ann) made her. I love love love the colors Erin chose for the baby's room. It's all robin egg blues, browns, greens, with touches of yellow and orange.

Here's Mikey without his newsboy hat and shoes. Since he'll be in the baby's room, I went ahead and sewed the hat and shoes on after this picture, so they wouldn't get lost. His linen short pants look a bit like jodhpurs to me. Which was unintentional, but I don't mind it. Maybe he is a polo player.

I cut a hole in the back of the tie to turn it more easily, so of course I had to glue a label over the slit. Fancy Monkey is an exclusive line of designer ties for equestrian newsboy monkey types.

To sum up, in order to transform the Molly pattern to a Mikey pattern:
  1. I altered the Molly beret to get the newsboy hat,
  2. added a tie and collar,
  3. divided the torso to make a waistband for the pants,
  4. switched the socks to legs and the legs to pants,
  5. and made the tennis shoes.
Of course you could skip the tie and collar completely and give him a t-shirt and jeans instead. There's a lot of possibilities.

If there is some interest out there in having the new Mikey pattern pieces so you can make boy versions from your Molly pattern without the guesswork, let me know. I can make the new pattern available in my shop at some point.

On a sour note, a fellow crafter informed me recently that she saw my Molly pattern on a craft site being passed off as their own design. She had the same experience with them with one of her own designs. They had indeed made .gifs out of my pattern pieces, deleted my text, and placed their logo on everything, including a photo image taken by me. Pretty cheeky. I guess that is the peril of a free pattern and the honor system. I've contacted them and requested them to remove it, but so far no response to me, although they have removed the offending page. I also recognized some other 'borrowed' tutorials there, some Martha Stewart images among them. That seems a little foolhardy. If you've posted a free tutorial, you might want to check it out.

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.

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.