Friday, August 31, 2012

facebook giveaway - fallish pillow cover

Hey, folks! Fall is my very favorite time of year. And it is gettin' close. Kind of. I can already sense the change in the air (slightly less oppressive), and I'm anticipating soup and sweaters! And squash! And leaves! And pumpkins! I'm excited.

To celebrate, I'm giving away this fallish Four Leaf pillow cover (not the 18 inch pillow insert - you'll have to supply that!) on my facebook page. To enter the giveaway, go to the mmmcrafts facebook page, like it, and then comment on the giveaway post. It's that easy. I'll randomly choose the winner on Monday!

If you would like to make your own fallish pillow cover, go right here to the tutorial.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

etsy finds

After seeing it on Pinterest, this feather print by Marisa Redondo is now on my desk and destined for a frame on my mantel. The print is vibrant and pretty much indistinguishable from a real watercolor, and on very nice textured watercolor paper too. I was going to say the print "winged its way to me' but my internal editor was rolling her eyes. She needs to loosen up.

You guys know I love Elsa Mora's detailed (and sometimes disturbing) papercuts, and I finally bought this sweet quartet from her to cut out myself. So pretty, and just looking at all the tiny spaces and points to cut out makes me happy with the squinty, crampy kind of happy only papercutters know.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

stack of sad

We recently purged the closet in Thing 1 and 2's room. All these handmade clothes that they can't fit into anymore will be going in the attic, because I just can't bring myself to put them in the giveaway pile. Feels a bit selfish. But. Maybe one day my kids will dress their kids up in my handmade clothes. Kind of a long shot though.

Monday, August 20, 2012

dubba digits for Thing 1

Despite my quite reasonable requests for her to remain nine, my oldest daughter ticked over from single to double digits a few days ago. Gah. Her age and height have been recorded on the wall in the schoolroom so it's official. Ten. It just sounds so old.

Oh, wait, that's me.

While her wonder years seem to be racing away at top speed, I'm so thankful to God as I see her mature and grow into a sweet, imaginative, kind, and comical spirit. She's such a blessing to our whole family. My responsible one. The one I can count on to remind me of things I forget. Along with that she also must know EVERYTHING that is going on. She quizzes me after every phone call, consults the family calendar, reads facebook posts over my shoulder, squeezes in beside me whenever I answer the door.

She always remembers where we are parked. Actually she can still tell you the lot number we parked in at last year's vacation. At ten she's already made it in and out of a set of braces. Poor kid, she got both of our wayward teeth. She loves to read read read. I was recently amused to see she'd packed not one, but two novels with her pajamas for a spend the night party. She also loves video games, horses, NASCAR, koalas, football, pandas, Looney Tunes, swimming, and drawing most of all. She's been working on writing and illustrating an epic story about a bird, a dog and a cat for some months now. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

She says when she grows up and gets married that she will live in a house on our street so she can come over every day. (my heart squeezing painfully)

I bought her Parisian chihuahua T-shirt at the same time I bought Thing 2's and just stashed it away. Recently I put a matching skirt together to complete her birthday outfit from some Echino I had in the stash. Remember I got it at Stitch Lab, Bob? I was inspired by a really cute skirt that Robyn had made for her kiddo. Sorry, no picture available, wish there was. It is a simple elastic waist skirt but has these great gapey pockets in a contrasting fabric. I tried to do the same for mine, but I think the pockets need to be maybe wider at top or possibly gathered in order to have the nice gape that Robyn's pockets do. I love that look and I didn't quite get there, although I am very happy with the skirt.

I used Anna Maria Horner's fantastic Flirting The Issue tutorial (with some mods) because Thing 1 looks better in a wider waistband. It was my first time using it and I love how the skirt gets an automatic lining with the way it is constructed and also the more controllable method of using multiple channels with elastic instead instead of shirring. I used one less waistband channel than specified, so the waistband isn't as wide as the adult version. I added a ruffle to the bottom of the inner lining so that it peeks out under the skirt. The double layers of fabric also make Thing 1's skirt pretty substantial because I used heavier linen/cotton instead of lightweight voile. That means it will be great for fall and early winter too and I can't wait to see it with tights and clogs instead of flip flops.

I also made her the traditional birthday mixtape. They both adore this. I kinda love it too. I spend a lot of time choosing the songs and I'm rewarded each time with great enthusiasm. These CDs get heavy rotation for years so the work is totally worth it. I just need to get better about making a note of good songs as the year goes by instead of trying to come up with a playlist the week before.

I forgot to blog her mixtape from her last birthday so here it is:

Friday, August 17, 2012

stack of happy

I'm a sucker for dots and stripes. There is a delightful selection of the Michael Miller Ta Dot fabrics at FabricWorm (check out the awesome fat quarter set), but the Clown Stripe is a little harder to find. I'd love to get some in the more unusual colorways like lagoon, turf and sorbet. There is also some ticking thrown in there (still trying to figure out what to use for my kitchen cushions).

I didn't buy these fabrics as a set, but I think they look great together. What a fun quilt they'd make! I've made a few hundred quilts in my head, which is totally the same as in real life, right?

Monday, August 13, 2012

make a four leaf pillow cover with piping!

Yes, even a beginner can make this pieced four leaf pillow cover! Trust me, it's not as hard as it looks. Two words: no zippers. And there are no painful pillow* sacrifices required, because the cover comes right off again when you want to switch it! My kind of project.

*If you are covering existing pillows be aware that a strong color or pattern might show through your new cover, so choose darker colors or thicker fabrics.

Before you start you will need to gather the following:
  • Existing 18 inch pillow (with no piping or foo foo stuff on it) OR 18 inch pillow insert
  • 1 yard of mid-weight or decor weight solid cotton fabric for the background color and envelope back
  • Midweight or decor weight scraps of colored cotton solids for pieced applique
  • 1 package of ready made piping (2.5 yards)
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue, *the magic ingredient*
  • Disappearing marker
  • This template for the leaf applique 
  • Coordinating sewing thread and all the usual stuff you have within reach for sewing (scissors, iron, pins, sewing machine, coffee with cream and sugar, plus some chocolate wouldn't hurt). A note about thread color: I choose a thread that blends in with the background color of the pillow, and then I just use it for the whole project, including the applique. No thread changing necessary. 
1) Press the fabric. Don't skip that! 'Wrinkly fabric doth a wonky pillow make', you know. Isn't that a saying? Pretty sure it is.

2) Measure and cut one 19 inch square piece of fabric for the front, then two 19x15 inch pieces for the envelope back. It's very handy to make a paper pattern for the square and envelope pieces, especially if you are going to be making more than one pillow cover. That way you don't have to measure and square each time. You can make a paper pattern that is half the size needed (example: 19 x 9.5 for the square) and then cut with it lined up with the fold of the fabric, OR you can make a pattern that is the actual size and cut it on the flat.

 3) Now you will sew what is called a narrow hem on one long edge of both the envelope pieces. It's easy.

Press over 1/2 inch of fabric toward the wrong side. This you can totally eyeball as long as it is close to 1/2 inch. It's more important to make it consistently wide all the way across so it looks neat. Then tuck under half of that and press again so that you have a 1/4 inch hem. Ish. Pin and sew it close to the folded edge so that you have a nice, neatly finished hem. Now repeat the narrow hem on one long side of the other envelope piece.

4) Time to assemble the leaves! For each leaf, you will need two 3.5 x 10.5 inch contrasting pieces of fabric. Please don't sweat cutting perfect 3.5 x 10.5 inch pieces. Each piece just needs to be big enough and have at least one long side that is cut straight on the grain (because that's the side you'll be pinning and sewing). I made a quick pattern piece for the size needed, rough cut around it and then trimmed one side straight.

Pin the four sets of pieces right sides together on the straight long edges. Sew 1/4 inch seam.

Press the seams open. I press from both sides, first the wrong side holding the seam open with my fingers as I go, and then again on the right side for a crisp, straight edge between the two fabrics.

5) Now's the fun part. No, really. Print the leaf template at actual size (no scaling) on card stock. Cut it out. Punch a hole where it says. Now align the points of the template on the seam of the right side of the pieced fabric. Note: The leaf is not symmetrical from point to point. The inside point is...well...pointier. So, if you want a nice pinwheel effect with the color of your leaves, be sure to trace them so the dark side of the leaf is consistently to the left of the pointier end. Or the right. But be consistent.

Trace the leaf shape with the marker. Mark a dot through the hole on the template with the disappearing marker so you can tell which end goes inside. Cut it out carefully. Repeat three more times for the other leaves. Ooh. Leaves. Pretty! See. That's fun.

6) With a long ruler (yardstick works great, but any straight edge will do) and the disappearing marker, draw an X on the right side of the square piece of fabric.

7) Put small dots of glue all around the edges and down the center on the wrong side of a leaf. Align the pointier end that has the dot at the middle of the X you drew, and the dotless end toward the corner of the square. Smooth it down. Repeat three more times until all four leaves are glued on.

Um. In the photo, ignore the fact that I have interfacing on the back of half of the leaf, will you? There is glue on that half too, you just can't see it very well. Sorry. I ended up using interfacing because the magenta fabric is pretty flimsy. Just pretend you didn't see it.

After they are all in place, press. Make sure they are nicely adhered. Now you are ready to sew those babies on.

8) Starting at a point of a leaf, sew a zig zag stitch around each leaf with the outside of the zig falling just beyond the edge of the leaf. Use a pretty short stitch length. On my machine (a Kenmore) the stitch length is 1 and the width is 4, and it looks like the photo below. For neatly turned corners, always end with the needle on the outside edge of the leaf, swivel the fabric, and continue sewing.

You can be all fancy and pull the top threads through to the back to knot them when you finish a leaf, but since it's less noticeable at the point I just backstitch a couple times to secure and trim the threads.

9) Now to add the piping to the square piece. With glue! Professional seamstresses may well look at this step and cringe, but it totally works for me. Much faster than basting. Your piping should be 1/2 inch away from the edges. Add dots of glue (actually I used a bit more glue than shown here for a satisfactory hold) all along the edge of the fabric about 1/4 inch away from the edge. Lay down the piping so the flange is in the glue and the actual piping (the part with the nice cording) is 1/2 inch away from the edge of the fabric. You can see the flange of my piping is not quite as wide as the seam allowance, so there's some fabric showing at the edges.

Snip the flange of the piping as you turn the corner (don't snip the piping stitching), and continue to add dots of glue and snip at the corners until you go all the way around the square. Overlap the piping and trim the excess. Use the iron to press all along the edges to set the glue.

I'm always shocked at how wrinkly my hands look in photographs. I promise I am not related to ET.

10) Now layer it all together for sewing! Can you feel the excitement building? You are so close to finishing. The rest is a piece of cake.

First lay down the square with the piping, right side up.

Then lay down one envelope piece right side down and aligned with the top edge. Notice the hemmed edge is the one cutting across the pillow. Use the glue to baste it together all around the edges, making the sure the raw edges of the fabric line up. Press the iron along the edges to set the glue.

Then lay down the other envelope piece right side down and aligned with the bottom edge this time, hemmed edge cutting across. The envelope pieces will overlap. Glue baste it all around the edges and set with the iron.

11) Dig out the zipper foot that came with your machine and put it on. Alert! Be sure to switch your stitch setting back to a normal straight stitch, not zig zag. You can do some damage to your needle if you forget and try to zig zag stitch through your zipper foot. It's a good thing nobody I know around here would do something so goofy. (Nose visibly growing)

Starting in the middle of one side, sew all the way around, as close to the piping as the zipper foot allows you to get. See how the piping is all snuggled under the zipper foot cutout thingy? Yes, that is the technical term. As you sew, your job will be to constantly keep that piping close to the needle. Watch your fingers. Please don't sew them.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll just refer you to this photo for the corner with the overlapped piping. See how I did it? Once you've sewn all the way around, backstitch a few times to secure.

12) Use pinking shears to trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch and snip each corner.

13) Now turn it right side out through the envelope back. Gently poke out the corners with your finger. Wow! You did it. With the piecing, the applique and the fancy piping and everything! (high five. low five. chest thump)

14)  All that's left to do is stuff it with the pillow. So go ahead and do that. Open the envelope back and stuff that baby in there. Snake a hand inside and grab each pillow corner and guide it to fit into the corners of the cover. Squish and tuck until you have a good, smooth fit. Tada!

If you make a pillow cover with this tutorial, I'd love to see it. Can you post it here, in my flickr group?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Operation Incognito pattern update!

It has come to my attention that I have girls, not boys. Therefore I tend to live in a world of unicorns, flowers and gently used toys. LOL.

In consequence, I've received some great feedback that the attachment of the elastic thread to the mustaches and beards in my Operation Incognito pattern is not quite strong enough to withstand boys. So! I have devised a stronger attachment and have updated the pattern PDF accordingly. Instead of gluing the thread down between the layers and then stitching over it, it is now attached with hand stitching in between the layers. Under testing, it held up to some pretty vigorous tugging.

Those who purchased the pattern via Etsy should have already received an email from me with the new and improved pattern attached. If you didn't, please contact me via Etsy convo.

If you purchased the pattern via Craftsy, it should automatically notify you that there is a new updated download. Log in to your Craftsy account to download the latest.

In the process, I've also found that there is a difference in elastic threads. I've updated the supply list to read "Spool of elastic thread, 28% poly/72% rubber". The thread I was using to do the update was not working right, and it turns out I had two different spools in my basket. They look similar, but one spool is way less stretchy and slightly thinner and has a lot less rubber in it. So, I recommend the checking the label before buying.

Also while I have your ear about this pattern, I need to stress that I do not recommend acrylic craft felt for this pattern. It does not hold a stitch as well, the freezer paper doesn't adhere very well, and you could end up melting it with your iron. Doh! See my FAQ for sources of wool and wool blend felt if you need one.

Friday, August 3, 2012

just had to say thank you!

Look at these adorable crochet dolls made by the talented Kate Erbach, Nice Person Extra-Extraordinaire. We love their crazy hair and adorable expressions. My two have named them Kate (after you, of course) and Hazel, and they've made themselves at home here, diving right into the picture books after they came out of their boxes. Thanks so much, Kate!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

pillows pillows pillows

I have the pillow making bug lately. We just needed more pillows to live on our couches anyway, because when we sit down we each grab one or more pillows to cushion books and gadgets on laps and to prop under various body parts.

The added piping makes a nice splash of bright against the darker fabrics. The blue pillow fabric is from one of my favorite collections ever from Anna Maria Horner, Good Folks, and the applique one is from chambray and cotton solids, all from the stash, except for the teal piping.

 It is my fond hope to replace this old sleeper sofa with a nice white canvas sleeper sofa. But for now, it is brown. Alas.

The new pillows add a needed splash of color on both couches (the other green ones are from West Elm). The covers are made in my favorite simple envelope method, which means easy removal for washing (or switching out) and no zippers to sew in.

Joann had pillow inserts on sale for 50% off when I went there yesterday for piping. Plus the added bonus of 15% off with my teacher's discount. Did you know about that?

Anyway, with that incentive I decided to get six cheap 18 inch square inserts and attempt to do easy cop-out-no-gusset seat cushions for my kitchen chairs. Finally. Our backsides will be so thankful. The hardest part will be fabric selection. I want them to look eclectic in a good way and not too matchy matchy with the curtains. I'm thinking they must have contrast piping and covered buttons. Kinda married to that but it limits me because I'm so loving the idea of yellow piping. Also I'm thinking I can squeeze the square insert into a slightly trapezoid shaped pillow cover, since the seats of the chairs are not quite square. So all of this is a huge experiment which may end in tears. Or triumph. Very possibly with triumph. I'll stay positive.

And, stay tuned for a tutorial and template to make your own four leaf pillow.