Wednesday, December 30, 2015

handmade gifts 2015: a very nice mouse for Thing 1

And here's the other ornament I made using the Very Nice Mice tutorial from Ann Wood. This one is for Thing 1, my oldest.

I gave this one a pom snowball, pipe cleaner stripey scarf and felt mittens. I used cotton pipe cleaners for the arms and feet.

I also shaved off a tiny bit of the seam allowance this time because I was having trouble maintaining the 1/8" allowance she calls for. I'm so used to sewing the smaller allowance for my own felt ornaments it was just more comfortable for me. Required less thinking. Plus it made it easier to close the opening after stuffing.

This one was finished in the wee hours of Christmas morning (surprise, surprise) so I forgot to add the pom pom bow on the head. Thing 1 assures me this is fine because her mouse is a boy and his name is Ralphie.

Here's the finished pair:

They fit very nicely on the tree. 

Thank you to Ann Wood for such a cute and timely pattern!

Monday, December 28, 2015

handmade gifts 2015: a very nice mouse for Thing 2

Have you seen Ann Wood's Very Nice Mice pattern and tutorial? It is just for hand sewing and makes the perfect little ornament-sized mouse. I followed it to make this ornament for my sweet Thing 2.

I added a few of my own touches, of course. Her felt bunny slippers are my favorite part. (Although I can't look at them without hearing a voice say, "He looks like a deranged Easter bunny.")

I also gave her a tiny felt stocking to hold and, of course, a paper cheese wedge. And a little pom pom bow on her head.

I substituted pipe cleaners for the arms and feet instead of using the felt pieces from the pattern. The finished mouse is about 3 inches tall.

I love Ann's original version in its little sailboat! I'd like to try a sailboat ornament next year.

Friday, December 25, 2015

have yourself a merry little Christmas

I love painted wood ornaments. This is one of my very favorites, marked 1982 on the bottom. It's my husband's from when he was a little kid. His whole childhood collection of ornaments was passed along to us by his sweet mom and I treasure them.

This one's charmingly bizarre if you really look at it. The hanging loop that's stuck on one side to the chimney. The window on the roof. The crazy clock on the chimney that has 8 o'clock where the 12 should be and all the numbers face the wrong way. The fact that it isn't a house that Santa is visiting, it seems to be a store. With green windows. And most intriguing, the oversized child on the roof, looking nonplussed as Santa smiles down. Is that what he asked from Santa? To be supersized? Like I said, I love it. It makes me happy when it comes out of the box each year.

It's been pretty dismal holiday weather in Atlanta. All of December it's been unseasonably warm which just feels wrong, and now for Christmas we are getting dark skies, thunderstorms and flash flood warnings (part of our family had to miss our gathering on Christmas Eve because their road washed away!). Bright side: it sure makes for a cozy atmosphere inside with the Christmas lights on.

I wish to you the merriest, most peaceful time this Christmas to be with family and friends and to eat more than you strictly need. See you soon with some photos of handmade gifts!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

finished ornaments and a new Twelve Days resource page on the blog

This was a bit of selfish ornament sewing. I am trying to make a full set of this aqua/mint/olive colorway for the Twelve Days ornaments just 'cause I like the colors so much. I thought I'd blog it because I can't blog anything else I'm making this month or it will spoil the fun. I know you guys are busy making gifts too! I can just hear the scraps flying.

The whole aqua/mint/olive gang I have so far. Next I need to sew a Turtle Dove. I figure I need at least three full sets of ornaments when all is said and done (besides the one I'm making for Robyn, of course). One set for me and one for each of my two daughters. I'm assuming that they will both want a handmade ornament set lovingly made by their mother's own two hands. One day when they have their own *voice breaking* houses to decorate for Christmas. *weeping*

*mopping face* Also I wanted to show you the new dedicated Twelve Days page. See the new link in the nav bar? It's the information HQ for all the sample color bundles and floss numbers, plus a handy link to every single Twelve Days posts on the blog. I hope it saves you some time searching around for that sample you saw a few months ago.

(The search field widget I had added in the sidebar quit working for some reason and the Blogger search field at the very top left never seems to return what I expect or want. I'll try again to find a good search widget.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

thank you and whoa nellie, it's December!

Thanks so much to all of you for making this Black Friday/Cyber Monday pattern sale the best one yet! Great Scott. You guys have a lot of sewing to do! Better get crackin'.

Me too. I've decided I like this mint/aqua/green color scheme for the Twelve Days ornaments so much I'm making it retroactive. (thus the new blog and shop banner also) Plus all the other stuff I'd like to make for gifts, yada yada yada. Big ideas and little time. Same story every year!

I can't believe it's December already! I guess I should go take the pumpkins off the front porch now.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Goose a-Laying pattern is now available!

Hopefully in time for your Christmas hand makery, here is the new Goose a-Laying ornament pattern. This is the 6th pattern! I'm halfway through the series now and I'm still loving each one.

Lots of color possibilities. Here are some of my favorites:

And like all the others in this ornament series, they feature the number on the backs.

And this set, like all the ornaments in the 12 Days series, uses a Sulky printable stabilizer to streamline the process. Oh my lands, it really makes the whole thing so quick and easy! No hand-tracing or transferring embroidery patterns! Just print and sew right on the printed lines, as shown in this Gold Ring photo:

YES. Then the stabilizer dissolves away in water.

To download the PDF sewing pattern for Goose a-Laying or any of the other Twelve Days series, visit my Etsy shop or my Craftsy shop

Next year will start with Swan a-Swimming and go from there!

Monday, November 16, 2015

my goose laid an egg

I'm working feverishly to finish writing the Goose a Laying pattern and get samples made so I can release the 6th Twelve Days pattern in plenty of time. It will include this egg! Because what good is a Goose a Laying without an egg?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Vader, you are my daughter

Making a Darth Vader costume for my teen daughter. Like you do.

Trying to avoid paying a ludicrous sum for a badly made male costume that is worn twice at the most. Also avoiding purchasing a badly made female Vader costume that is designed to look like a space hooker. So we bought a cheap mask, cape and light saber and I told her I'd make the T-shirt. Thank goodness for my prodigious ribbon collection. I found that gluing ribbons on to make the details is a lot neater and faster than the freezer paper stencil I had envisioned. I think I'll glue on some felt to make the gray part of the yoke at the top and call it a day. Black jeans, boots and belt and she's good to go. I mean evil. Evil to go.

Are you guys as geeked out about the upcoming Episode 7 as we are? Deep down I think I know it will be a's hard to imagine anything better than Episode 5. But I'm willing to find out.

My other kid wants to be a fox and somehow the entire world has been depleted of orange faux fur. I had some ordered online for a few weeks that's been backordered twice. So I gave up and canceled. I found some small pieces of neon orange at my local Joann (think Troll doll) so I'm going to see what I can do.

What are you making? You'd better get crackin'.

Friday, October 9, 2015

and cards to match

The finishing touch to the very late birthday gifts were these very late handmade cards.

Made from paper, gel pen and felt.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

branch and berry applique pillow covers for people I love

Handmade gifts. I sewed these two pillow covers over the course of the last month for beloved people Robyn and Leigh. And they were mailed embarrassingly late for their September birthdays. Sorry, guys.

That's what they look like stuffed with pillows. This grey one is Robyn's, shown flat:

The colors were chosen to match her decor. So if it clashes, Robyn, please feel completely free to never tell me.

While I'm showing Robyn's cover I'll throw in the other handmade item in her package (but not made by me): this pretty embroidered necklace by Skrynka. Natalka is really so friendly and handles custom orders with ease. I got one for myself a few months ago and love it. Her work is so neatly done and I dig the antiqued finish on the chain and settings.

The orangey browny cover is Leigh's, made with her family room in mind:

Covers are much easier to mail than actual pillows, you know. All this goes on the assumption that they already have handy an 18 inch pillow that needs a fall makeover. Fingers crossed, ears plugged.

Both covers were made with the same pattern. I sketched the original design small on paper (I work much better with thumbnail size) and then scanned it and scaled it way up to actual size. I printed it out and traced a cleaner copy over it with freezer paper and punched holes for placement guides.

The fabric is heavyweight canvas. The leaves were appliqu├ęd with a zig zag and the stems were done by many passes of straight stitch machine sewing while I re-watched Dr Who series 5. (My favorite is the first episode. "You're Scottish, fry something." Prisoner zero. Fish custard!) The berries are cut from wool felt and sewn on by hand.

I always wonder when I'm in the middle of sewing these stems if there is a heavier weight of thread that I can use (like jean thread) that wont mess up my machine in the process. I'll have to look into that.

I finished the covers with the envelope backs and piping method from my pillow cover tutorial of yore. Tacky glue sure beats pins.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

curated Benzie felt & floss color guide for Gold Ring

Once again, Renae at Benzie Design has put together a handy bundle of felts and flosses that I've chosen for you to use along with the Gold Ring pattern if you'd like to make ornaments similar to the ones shown above. Thank you, Renae! She has an option for just the felt bundle OR the felt bundle along with some matching flosses:

Gold Ring Benzie Felt Colors are:
Bronze (this color is now discontinued and Castle will be subbed)

You always need matching flosses when you sew layers together, so having the floss bundle comes in handy and helps build your embroidery stash. Please choose your option (with floss or without floss) from the Benzie Design drop down menu (there are also bundles for the other Twelve Days ornaments in that same listing).

Note: You will also need some additional contrasting flosses to do the decorative embroidery shown in the sample photo. If you purchase the matching floss bundle you will already have some of these colors! Here are the felt colors and DMC numbers for the decorative embroidery:

Pink/gold/orange ring felt:
Ring and setting: Mustard
Bands and leaves: Copper
Ring inside: Bronze (or sub in Castle)
Jewel: Magenta
Jewel highlight: Flamingo

Pink/gold/orange ring embroidery:
DMC White
DMC 924
DMC 917

Violet blue/gold/light yellow ring felt:
Ring and setting: Ochre
Bands, leaves and ring inside: Mustard
Jewel: Blue
Jewel highlight: Pool

Violet blue/gold/light yellow ring embroidery:
DMC White
DMC 820*
DMC 920*
DMC 3822*

Turquoise blue/gold ring felt:
Ring: Mustard
Bands, leaves and setting: Ochre
Ring inside: Bronze (or sub in Castle)
Jewel: Peacock
Jewel highlight: Swan

Turquoise blue/gold ring embroidery:
DMC White
DMC 3844
DMC 831*

*These DMC colors are already included in the Benzie bundle.

I've also worked with Benzie to put together a curated bundle of felt for each of the previous Twelve Days patterns and you can find them all under that same Benzie listing in the drop down menu. See this Twelve Days page for links to all the other color guides.

I hope you enjoy your holiday hand sewing! Look for Goose A-Laying this fall.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Gold Ring pattern is in the shop!

Ornament No. 5, rollin' off the assembly line. I'm not sure why this Gold Ring pattern took so long to get out. Well, yes I am. Trips, vomit viruses, busyness, family in the hospital, freelance jobs, other projects and also a few days of general summer apathy sprinkled throughout. But it's done! I can see fall coming around the corner and I'm getting excited! Tights! Wool skirts! Soups! Cozy Christmas handmaking!

*singing in operatic falsetto* Fiiiiiive gooooold riiiiings...
Or blue rings. Or pink rings. No reason you can't sew outside the box. I'm a big fan of unexpected colors.

There's room on the back to add a name or date if you like.

This ornament, just like the previous four in this Twelve Days series, uses a Sulky printable stabilizer to streamline the process. It really makes the whole thing so quick and easy. No hand-tracing or transferring embroidery patterns! Just print and sew right on the printed lines. YES. Then the stabilizer dissolves away in water.

To download the PDF sewing pattern for Gold Ring or any of the other Twelve Days series, visit my Etsy shop or my Craftsy shop. I plan to release Goose a Laying this fall!

Monday, August 10, 2015

stinkface pillow for my new teenager(!)

I'm not sure how my oldest daughter managed to turn thirteen. THIRTEEN. There have clearly not been enough years between when she was a wee baby and right now, but she insists this is correct. We have a teenager. Great gophers. But back to the pillow. You may have already seen the genesis of the idea at the bottom of this post, or the fur selection here.

Now it's a reality! Why, yes, it is reversible! So she can display whichever side she is hyper-feeling at the moment:

You STINK. Go 'way.

Best day EVER! Hug me!

The eyes and mouth on both sides are wool felt applique and the noses are large pom poms. I used a 16 inch round pillow insert I bought at JoAnn so I didn't have to stuff it myself. Easy. The Mr Stinkface side is actually two pieces so that the lowered brow could overlap the eyes.

It's hard to tell, but the back (Mr Happyface) is actually an envelope opening, so it's two pieces also. The overlap edge runs just under the pom pom nose. It's hard to tell it's there, which is just the way I'd hoped. I intended for the lower half to overlap the eyes a bit, but it likes to pull away. I tacked it under the nose but I'll probably sew it all the way across.

During the making, long tufts of fur flew everywhere. I will no doubt continue finding it stuck to my socks and pulling tiny, invisible filaments out of my eyeballs for months. But this faux fur is the softest, bestest feeling fur and such a pretty color! It makes the pillow irresistable. You find you simply must squeeze it, pet it and finger comb its face. It's like an oversized tribble.

I improved muchly on my fur cutting technique this time by reading up on some tips on how you should slide your blades under the fur to only cut the backing instead of just scissoring away at it like you would regular fabric. This keeps it from having uneven, chopped looking fur at the edges and seams (much like my unfortunate mom-trimmed bangs in a long ago school picture.) Excellent.

I had some trouble attaching the eyes and mouth because even though I glue basted the pieces, they kept shifting around on the fur. My softie support group suggested I trim the fur underneath the felt pieces (thank you, makes perfect sense) but I was too afraid to do that because I might want to adjust the placement (the glue was washable). I ended up just gluing the heck out of the pieces all around and then hand sewing the edges instead of trying to wrestle them through the machine. Turned out fine.

I think my thirteen year old turned out fine too. I love you more! (x infinity squared)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

what I'm up to

Busy, busy, busy. I always envision lazy summers but somehow that never happens. Doing lots but blogging little. Sewing, traveling to see family, teaching Bible classes (I just finished a quarter with my truly awesome 4-6th graders), VBS madness.

And of course I'm working on two patterns right now, the Gold Ring ornament (5th in the Twelve Days series) and the EarlyBird NightOwl Pillow. Busy digitizing pattern pieces and making test samples for both.

I've sewn a couple of shirts for myself but I can't seem to find a good time to photograph them. Or the motivation to get shots of me wearing them. Or the courage to show you. I'll do that soon. Ish.

And my head was completely turned recently by this vintage curtain remnant on Etsy. I love the combination of the brights with the dull brown. It's a 60s print called Pompeja by Swedish designer Marta-Lena Bjerhagen. It needs to become a pillow for my couch. I'll squeeze that in between samples.

I hope your summer is going well! Or your winter, for my friends in the southern hemisphere.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

testing, testing

Very first try at custom printing at Spoonflower for the quick-sew version of the Early Bird Night Owl pillow. The colors came out better than I thought from the screen preview, though some patterns are darker than anticipated.

This is a big experiment with both the method and the cost effectiveness. So far I really don't like the results that I get sewing together the small pieces like the beak and eyebrows. Those would look much better in felt, IMO. The small size makes them kind of a pain to turn and the stuffed shape doesn't look smooth even when I carefully clip the allowances. I'm rethinking those parts.

I'm considering having the large pieces pre-printed (front and back of the bird) and then just adding felt and pom accents. That would sure be a lot cuter and easier. And you could also embellish with trims and embroidery if you wanted to. And maybe that way it would fit on a fat quarter. I'll have to check that. That would bring the cost down.

And no worries, I'm also working on the traditional sewing pattern for this in woven cottons with applique, felt accents, and poms!