Monday, September 28, 2009

pieced pincushion

I finally made a Kelly McKaig pincushion from my oft-perused-but-never-sewn Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts book. I've had the book for a while, but until last night had never even taken out the folded pattern sheet in the back (a fate shared by several other good books in my library).

I've admired the eye-candy pincushions every time I've opened the book, and last night when I came up to the craft room to fetch something I was overcome by the sudden urge to make one. Does that ever happen to you?

And I found it doesn't take very long to make one (cut and sewn in about 15 minutes, stuffed and finished while watching a good Newsradio re-run). What took me the longest was deciding which fabrics to use. Since the pattern piece fits nicely on less than half of a charm square, that widens the fabric options quite a bit. I remade the pattern piece on cardstock without the fold, since it was such a tiny piece anyway and I didn't want to mess with folding the fabric to cut it.

Have you guys made one? Where are you supposed to leave the opening? I reread the directions and it says that the opening is indicated on the template, but I can't see it on there. I left it open near the point, which was a mistake. Too hard to stitch closed after stuffing.

I might have to make more of these. I think the pincushion is lonely and needs some companions in different colors. Which is a bit ridiculous because I don't really use pincushions that much. Instead I have these less aesthetic but more practical magnetic pin holders. They fit in with my frenetic style of sewing. I just toss the pins in their general direction and the magnetic field snaps the pin in place. But there is no denying the charm of a pincushion, is there? I'll use it for my sewing and embroidery needles.

Friday, September 25, 2009


  1. It is now officially my favorite time of year. And these are my favorite fallish shoes. If I can ever get over my mental block for dressmaking, I have some nice fabric for a dress to go with them.
  2. Guess who's birthday it is todaaaaaaay? That's right, my bosom friend and crafting comrade, Robyn. Go wish her a happy day! Mystery Package is in the mail, Bob.
  3. I just made a little zippered pouch using this very well-done tutorial on flickr. Super easy, and also super good because she uses french seams. No ravelly insides. And then you can transform that into a boxed pouch using the last few steps of this tutorial, if you like. Methinks I need to make more pouches. But first I need to buy more zippers. And don't make the same mistake I did by accidentally sliding the zipper pull off the teeth during construction. That is a total booger to fix.
  4. Still holding strong on resisting the germ cloud at my house. Today I'm getting out of the house for the first time since last Friday. Yay! Gettin the first train out of Hermitville. Oh, yeah.
  5. I just finished a fascinating book, Wedlock, The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore by Wendy Moore. Ok, I have to confess I rarely read non-fiction. I just need the escape that fiction provides. But I picked this book up on a whim at the library and it was riveting. It's the true story of the ridiculously abusive marriage of Lady Strathmore in Georgian England and how she finally managed to escape with the help of some servants. Extremely interesting look at that time's view of women's rights in marriage.
  6. Robyn turned me on to a great site if you are teaching your kid how to read. Thing 2 really loves it.
  7. I'm enjoying Arrested Development on DVD. I've never watched it before, and it is funny.
  8. Happy friday to you.

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.

Monday, September 21, 2009


My friend and apparent SuperHero, Robyn, made my girls a wonderful gift for their birthdays. And she manages to make this exquisite stuff all while caring for a new baby and two other kids PLUS home schooling. How does she do it?

I waited a bit to blog it so I wouldn't steal her thunder. Then we've had day after day of gloomy and rainy weather, so not very good photo conditions. Not complaining though, Georgia needs the rain so so badly. Thank you, Lord! Gloomy it is.

I mean come on. Can it get sweeter? Sent along with the WONDERFUL whimsical and humorous (of course) The Princess And The Pea book by Lauren Child as the perfect companion to the playset. We sat down to read it as soon as the ribbon came off the package.

We already had the princesses to go with it, two adorable dolls made by Robyn as a special gift for the girls a while back. For this playset she designed two pretty nightgowns for them so the dolls could take turns being bruised by the pea.

This is the pea and its little pocket in the bottom mattress.

I love all the fabrics stacked together for the little mattresses. It's a gift we will certainly all cherish, SuperRobyn. Thanks again!

(What we won't cherish is picking up H1N1, probably at DisneyWorld. Ick. It's too early for the stinkety flu! At least we'll have it over with, I guess. Bright side to everything I suppose. The girls are real sick with it right now, and they are both coughing germy germ clouds all over the house. I'm banking on Mother's Immunity. We are holed up in our house for the duration. Don't want to spread the piggy joy. Y'all take your vitamins and wash your hands!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

guess where we went?

Sorry. It's blurry. But someone else kindly volunteered.

More princesses than you can shake a stick at.

At the hotel, sporting their homemade mouse dresses.

We spent last week at the happiest place in the world. And indeed it was. It was the first trip there for the girls and it was as magical as I was hoping. I'm not an amusement park lover, and I expected to suffer through it for their sake. But man was I mistaken. We ALL had a great time! None of us wanted to come home. Not even a bit. Sigh.

Before we left, I decided to make them a Mickey and Minnie dress for the trip. When I should have been packing of course. I also made myself a shirt. That's just how I deal with stress. I add to it. The shirt didn't make it. Had to finish it after I got home. But it fits! Mostly. I'll blog it later.

I'm really really really lucky to have a husband who is a trip planner. He researched the trip, got the best deal going (free meal plan thrown in!), researched the hotels, and got us a free upgrade. He had our whole itinerary mapped out for us, timed to get the best of everything in each park we visited. That took some work! He's truly a jewel. All I had to do was pack (eventually) and take a good book to read in the van. Seven and a half hours, really not bad. The kids were as good as gold. Only one stop!

Late nights on the parking lot trolley tend to bring out the silliness.

Also I have to mention I had several friends that had really valuable tips to share about how to get the most out of your trip. Thanks especially to you, Beth!

Trying to adjust to the real world now. Makin my own beds. hmmph.

Monday, September 14, 2009

poor unsuspecting red.

Finished the diorama for the girls' room. Or my mantel. Or somewhere. Can't decide yet. I've been obsessing over it a little. It took a while to do. The colors are darker than I usually work with. Actually I confess I'm not sure I love it. But that is really really crazy to say after the hours I've put in, so I have no choice but to love it.

Ever since I saw some illustrations from Alain Gree's La Foret, I wanted to cut out some trees like his. Actually these are pretty much exactly like his. This whole layout is like a study at the feet of the master. But the house, owl, wolf and Red were added by me.

The frame is the large Ribba shadowbox from IKEA. As usual. I love those. I hope they never ever stop making them.

Owl looks on from his tree. He can't exactly warn Red about the wolf. He has to live here you know. And she doesn't speak owl. It's sad about Red, but what are you gonna do?

Wolf is hatching his evil plan. And grinning. Bad bad wolf. Poor Granny.

Red is listening to her iPod, minding her own business, and walking some freshly baked garlic cheese bagels to Granny's house deep in the forest.

Little does she know.

I like the version of the story I heard as a kid where Granny isn't really eaten. She is ok at the end. I think she was locked in the cellar or something. The wolf still gets his though.

Friday, September 4, 2009

10 things about me

at Cafe Du Monde last year, doing what I do best:
Eatin stuff and drinkin coffee.

(btw, that's powdered sugar, not foam. if you've eaten
a beignet there, you'll know.)

Some unweird and also totally weird stuff you may not know about me.
  1. I'm turning 40 this year. Wow. I said it. But I still can't believe it.
  2. I still have trouble telling right from left. I figure at this point, it is pretty much hopeless.
  3. I am a teensy tiny bit of a perfectionist, at times. Or you perhaps did know this about me.
  4. I'm not good in a crisis. If it is mine, that is. If it is yours, I'm very businesslike.
  5. I don't watch the news.
  6. I have unexplainable reservations about getting flu shots. I've never gotten one. My dad is pelting me with swine flu propaganda right now.
  7. I fantasize a lot about hiring a live-in Alice-like housekeeper.
  8. I love a stick shift, and actually prefer that to an automatic. However, I can't parallel park to save my life.
  9. I have a pathological hatred of mosquitoes. At night if someone holds my front door open to say a lengthy goodbye, all I can think about is 'crud, they are letting in a bunch of blood sucking mosquitoes.'
  10. I've never cleaned my sewing machine. Or behind my stove or washer. And I'm ok with that.
Ok! Now that you've peered into my soul, I'm going to take a week-long blog hiatus. I'll see y'all after next week.

P.S. If there were a number 11, it might be: A pet peeve of mine is when someone (usually an actor) uses "y'all" to address only one person. It's plural. You all.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

working on...

...something for my girls' room. or mantel.