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.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale!

Hello! Gobble gobble! A happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans! But not that healthy...have another slice of pie and throw on some mashed potatoes. Besides all the food, I have so much to be thankful to my Creator for. It restores my soul to set aside a time to spend with our families and express our love and gratitude to each other and to the Lord. So many blessings! Not the least of which are my loyal readers and customers. Thank you! But I don't especially count football among my blessings. I should try to summon up some team loyalty for the Iron Bowl party I'm attending. Roll Tide. *limply waving pom pom*

It's also time for my annual pattern sale! If you've been waiting to get a good deal on several patterns this is it. 20% off of your pattern purchase in my Etsy shop only now through Monday, November 30th. Be sure to use the coupon code:


If you don't use the code, you won't get the discount! So don't forget the code! Have a wonderful, crafty, cozy weekend.

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 30, 2015

early bird/night owl prototype, malware and trust issues

Hey. I've been quiet but busy. My beloved and wonderful mom turned 80! I love her so much. What a lucky kid I am. We had a wonderful girls-only family celebration at the beach and it was a nice getaway from the computer and security problems I've been having lately.

Mean people infected my computer with malware and so I've been dealing with huge waves of malicious emails being sent from my personal email address to everyone I've ever emailed in my whole life and also their dogs. My apologies if you've received any of those. I don't send out patterns or updates via email so please don't click on any of those links that say 'Hey, friend! Go here," or similar. I know y'all are smarter than that, but thought I'd tell you anyway. Apparently after the initial wave they can still send emails that appear to be from me without actually being from me, which is called spoofing. Just trash them.

I've been working with my email provider and I've had to completely wipe my Mac and start from scratch to make sure the boogeymen are gone. It's left me with major trust issues so I can hardly bring myself to get on the internet anymore. And also now after the rebuild of my computer I've been introduced to the nightmare that is the Mac Photos app and I hate hate hate it. Whoever decided it would make a swell replacement for iPhotos needs to be put in the naughty corner with a cone hat. Downloading and formatting those two images up there ^ would have taken about 5 minutes max in iPhotos. It took me about 30 minutes in Photos and there were plenty of creative epithets being hurled around during that time. I hear there's a new one being released today so I hope they've listened to the myriad complaints. Oh, iPhoto, I miss youuuuuuuuu.

Anyhoo. Done with the negative stuff. Cute birds! Let's talk about cute, stuffed birdies. What you see is a tight prototype of the upcoming pattern. There were some minor tweaks made since the original one for my daughter (some I like, some I don't). So a few more little tweaks to come. But it's close.

It's almost October! That's so crazy! Where did you go, September? It seems like time speeds up after August every year. Slow down, fall, I want to savor you. I need pumpkins on my porch! Must go buy pumpkins and mums.

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, September 5, 2015

all the things

O September, my September! How I love thee. Getting so close to fall, my favorite. Trying to put on the brakes and really savor it, but it's hard to slow down with another school year starting in earnest and two patterns on my table. I'm one of those naysayers who thinks it should be illegal to put up Christmas decorations before December first. Let me have my autumn, people! *waving cane*

There's already been a subtle change in the light and air here. Yes, yes, we are in Atlanta, so there will still be plenty of sweaty armpit days and it sure ain't time to break out the boots and scarves (no really, random citizens. It isn't), but we've had a couple of preview days with cooler temps and breezes.

The photo. Like my dreamy new fall shoes? I was a goner the moment I put them on. They might be a cross between Howard's End and Soul Train, but I love them hard. So comfortable. (That now being my number one concern. Welcome to middle age.) And they go with practically everything in my wardrobe! I was sashaying around the house in them the other day in my pajamas (rolled to the knee), trying them with different coats and doing a fashion show for my two girls. They remained unimpressed. What do they know?

Both the school carts are already overloaded and disorganized after one week of school. I should have enjoyed that initial five minutes they looked nice and neat. I still get a huge thrill out of new school supplies.

Home schooling will be a bit different for us this year as both my girls are enrolled in an excellent academy that partners with home schoolers in my area. They'll be attending classes a couple days a week. The rest of the days will be at home with their favorite teacher. haha. My husband and I think it's important as they get older to learn to be accountable to other teachers besides myself (and excellent teachers too!) and to really stretch themselves and get comfortable with giving presentations and being part of a classroom setting. Our first year with the academy was last year and it was fantastic.

We are trying origami. It's nice to take a break from academics to sit and fold paper and add goofy faces. The girls have never really tried it and I'm not very experienced. We are finding this book to be a great starter:

Speaking of home schooling, Angry Chicken just posted a great list of home schooling links here, and That Artist Woman has an excellent post about her favorite school art supplies here. And my friend Laura recommended a great site for math practice. Both my right-brained children need to get quicker with mental math and this makes a nice break from flash cards. I think it's great! The girls complain loudly, but that's how I know they are learning.

In crafty news, I've jumped right from Gold Ring to developing the Early Bird/Night Owl pillow pattern. This one's ready to stuff. Ugh. My least favorite step. I hate to stuff things, but now I realize this may be because I've been using the worst possible stuffing available. I didn't think there were many differences but after seeing this timely post I'm game to try the stuffing that Wendi Gratz recommends so highly. I think I'll be making a special trip to the store this afternoon so I can get some.

My local craft stores love to see me coming during pattern development. I shop with a scatter gun mentality. Even if I have a pretty good idea of what I need for the samples I'm making, I'm always plagued with doubts and end up getting some of everything in every color. It usually pays off.

I hope you are having a lovely September, and happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans!

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!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

mixtape for my new teenager!

I've seen this thirteen coming from a long way off but it's still surprising it's here. Thirteen! ThirTEEN. I have a teenager! She's the sweetest, bestest teenager around and still loves to hug her momma. Still hates coffee though. So puzzling.

To celebrate, I made my girl a reversible, furry stinkface pillow, a banana cake and also this mixtape. If you are new here, mixtapes have been a birthday tradition with my girls since they were teeny. I love putting them together. I tried to pick songs with a 'teenager' theme, along with other songs she likes, songs she'll grow to like, and songs from memorable movies. That Rush song is in honor of my Schmoopie. He's so proud his daughters are getting into his music. She likes Spirit of Radio but Subdivisions is a perfect anti-conformist teen anthem, I think.

That first song was perfect to blast on our sound system the morning of her birthday. It's an over-the-top stereotype of teen princesses. "Gimme a break, I'm just a teenager..." Pretty funny. Here's my birthday girl getting a sweet hug from me at Nana's house...

...which turns into a half nelson and her saying "MOOOOMMM!" as I'm trying to tell everyone the beautiful story of the morning she was born. "Thirteen years ago at eight o'clock in the morning I was saying to the nurse, "Someone just kill me..."

Well, she was 9 lbs 2 oz. She owes me big.

Oh, thirteen! I remember you well! I was still so awkward looking and nervous and dissatisfied about everything. Braces. Anxiety. Terrible hair. My teenage daughter is so not that. She seems laid back and completely comfortable with being herself. She loves to read fantasy stories, draw, listen to music, and go places with her Dad. She's funny. She's meticulous about privacy and is mortified when I walk around the house in my underdrawers. (Hey, we are all girls here! For pete's sake!) She's getting lean and lanky like her Daddy. As she's pulling away from us and gaining independence, she's also getting a fine, discerning mind of her own and such a caring, tender spirit. We love her so much!