Monday, April 30, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

 Recently, I was honored to be given the Liebster Blog Award by the lovely Laura of sew.knit.grow - she and I have been trading comments on sewing lately.  Not only does she create some lovely sewn goods, but beautiful knit projects as well (which I'm sure everyone could guess from the blog title!) - it makes me wish I were better at knitting.

The idea of the Liebster award is for the recipient to forward the honor to three other small blogs.  I'm a little unsure of how small a blog has to be to qualify (sew.knit.grow says about 200 followers or less), so I'm sort of just guessing.  I'm hoping that these blogs have approximately the right number of followers.  With that in mind, here are my three:
Africankelli:  I've been following Africankelli's blog for the past few months.  I was initially drawn to the blog because of the Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders sew-along, but there are lots of other fun things going on there as well.
Selfsewn: I've been following this growing blog for a few months.  Such beautiful quilts!  The author does some really helpful tutorials.  I have never used the English Paper Piecing Quilting method, but selfsewn makes me want to.
Kunklebaby:  I'll be honest, even though there is a lot of sewing going on here, I just love the photos of the little ones.  The sewing is lovely to look at, too.

And, because I can't help myself, here are some beautiful fabrics that should be arriving in my mailbox in the very near future:
London Calling Lawn Deco Bloom VintageBird's Eye Pique Pale BlueMichael Miller Children At Play Flannel Chasing Airplanes Blue
From left: Robert Kaufman Lawn, Pale Blue Pique, Michael Miller Children at Play Flannel

Sewing for Boys April Sew-along

When the 'Sewing for Boys' April pattern  was announced, I wasn't sure that I would participate this month - I've already made two pairs of the Treasure Pocket Pants (a pair with Penguins and a pair with Puppies).  So I felt that we were in a good place with Treasure Pocket Pants already.  Then I realized that this was an excellent opportunity to sew something cute for my 3-month-old nephew.

Now, you may be asking, "How did you sew these for your nephew, isn't the smallest pattern size 12-18 months?"  Okay, so maybe you weren't asking that at all, but I'll answer anyway.  These pants are 12-18 months, and I'm thinking they'll fit my nephew next fall/winter.  He's a big baby, so I'm guessing that they'll fit sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately for us, this means that we won't have any cute photos of babies today.

One reason that I made these way-too-big pants was the fact that I already had all of the materials in my stash.  My aunt gave me the tan canvas/denim fabric that I used for the main part of the pants, and I bought the cute owl print at Sew to Speak.  For the record, the owl print is a Tammis Keefe/Michael Miller print - the third Tammis Keefe print that I've bought.  I love them all!

I didn't really do anything special with this pattern.  The waist facing is narrower than the instructions require, and I used a slightly differnt method for attaching the bottom hem facings, but these are really minor changes.  You may also notice that I used the main canvas fabric for the top side panels, while in the past I've used the contrast fabric all the way up the side.  I really like the result either way.

Of course, even though the recipient is out of town, my son couldn't resist the opportunity to have his picture taken.  Comparing this photo to the pictures of him in his puppy pants really makes me realize how badly this boy needs a haircut!  I promise - short hair will be in the very near future.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The REAL reason I bought the Alligator fabric

After making my daughter's alligator skirt, I felt that I absolutely had to work on my blouse in the same fabric.  Luckily, I already had the pattern cut out.

I used Colette's Sorbetto pattern, which was lovely.  The pattern was simple enough that after cutting out my pieces, I just glanced over the instructions then sewed without really referring to the pattern at all. And, because this is a free downloadable pattern, I did something that I never do - I cut right into the pattern after taping the pages together.  No tracing for me!  Tracing can be so tedious, and if I want to sew one in a different size, I'll just download the pattern again (but, because it fits so well, that seems unlikely).

Joanna took this picture - it is important to her that there be a fabric close-up

The most time consuming part was making my own bias tape for the edges - even using the continuous bias tape method, it takes a while.  It's all the pressing involved after everything has been cut.  I had planned to use store-bought bias tape, but it seemed like an unnecessary hassle when I had so much leftover fabric.

Even though I have now officially accomplished my Alligator fabric mission, I don't think we've seen the last of this print - I'm going to make sure every scrap gets put to good use.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chomp goes the Alligator

A girl can never have too many skirts.  I should know - I have a closet full of them.  And, I'm working on filling Joanna's closet as well.  So, when Joanna said that she wanted a skirt made from the Alligator fabric that I had in my stash, I was happy to oblige.

I suppose it takes the right kind of person, but my daughter and I both really love this fabric.  It's a Tammis Keefe print from Michael Miller that I picked up at Sew to Speak.  I originally bought the fabric to make a blouse for myself, so when Joanna asked for the skirt, I went back to the store and bought more (I still plan to make that blouse!).  

This skirt is made in almost the same way that I made these skirts a couple months ago.  The only difference is that this skirt isn't quite as full - The rectangles that I cut were about 38"x18", instead of 44"x18".  The fact that the skirt wasn't quite as full as last time made it easier to feed the elastic through, I think.  I'm so glad that Joanna likes this style - it's just so easy!

Now for my blouse - I'm planning to use Colette's Sorbetto pattern - I've cut out the pieces, I just have to throw it together!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Most of the time, I try to make clothes that I think I'll be able to wear for a variety of different occasions.  But sometimes, it is so fun to have something that isn't particularly versatile.  This skirt is super fun, but it isn't really something that I would wear to work, or any sort of event that requires dressing up.  It's just fun.  Good for going to the park, on a walk, or just working around the house.  In other words, it is perfect for a weekend - and it is aptly named Saturday Gathered Skirt (another project from 'Sew What you Love' - is anyone sick of me talking about this book yet?).

I made this skirt on a whim - using fabrics that seemed super-springy.  The main fabric is a birch fabrics organic print, and I really don't know about the green polka dot.  Both were from Sew to Speak.  And, everything would undeniably look better had I done a proper job of ironing before taking this picture, but oh well.

This pattern certainly could be dressed up quite a bit (with a floral voile, perhaps), and there are instructions for adjusting the length, too.  I just happen to like mine exactly the way it is - which is saying quite a lot.  To explain: I made this skirt a couple weeks ago, in a hurry.  We were leaving to visit family in Nashville the next day, and I wanted a lazy skirt to wear on the trip.  So, because I was a bit rushed, I finished the skirt with a simple elastic waist using 1/2" elastic.  I liked it alright, but felt that it would probably be better if I finished it with shirring at the waist (as the book instructs).  So, after coming home, I tore out the current waist and completed it with shirring.  Now, I think it is just about right.  Someone should probably scold me for not following the directions to begin with.

The only change that I might make would be the ruffle.  Next time, I might cut it a little wider, as I would love for it to be a bit flouncier, but that's a minor change.  The pattern also suggests that it might be fun to add more rows of shirring to the waist - I'll have to try this as well.

So, now, all is right in the world of skirts, and we had a lovely time in Nashville:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Napkins are not glamorous

I'm a little ashamed to admit that I just got around to making napkins to match these placemats that I made for my mother.  I blame it on the fact that napkins are not particularly exciting.  I really have no other excuse.  They certainly weren't difficult or intimidating, and I had all the fabric that I needed.

Because the placemats have a linen blend fabric in the center, I used the same fabric for one side of my napkins. On the reverse, I used a couple of the prints from the placemats.  I think they're great - heavy, yet soft; coordinating, but not too matchy-matchy.

I didn't do anything fancy - I cut 18"x18" pieces of fabric and sewed each piece of print fabric to a piece of linen, right sides together using about a 1/2" seam allowance.  I left about a 4" space for turning, clipped corners and turned.  I finished by topstitching around the edges, about 1/4" away from the edge.

Like I said - not very exciting, but beautiful and functional!  After giving these to my mother, she and I took the kids on a bike ride and I managed to get a funny sunburn on my forehead (I should have been wearing a helmet), forearms and neck.  Welcome, sun!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders: Hot Pad Apron

Oh, how  I adore the One-Yard Wonders franchise.  I usually mix and match fabrics and I don't necessarily stick with the one-yard philosophy, but I really think they're fun projects.  Maybe because they're generally quick, easy and completely satisfying.  Ever since I got the new Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders book in December, I've had a long list of projects that I wanted to try, one of them being the fantastic Hot Pad Apron.  Lucky for me, this is the chosen pattern for the Sew Along this month!

Like many other One-Yard Wonders patterns that I've made in the past, I didn't use an exact yard of fabric.  Rather, I was given a bunch of fabrics that I had no idea what to do with, and this plaid happened to be among them.  Like I've said before, I like to think that I'm still embracing the One-Yard Wonder concept by being thrifty and using a fabric that I already had on hand.

Some notes on this pattern:

  • I didn't feel that there was quite enough fabric for the waist ties (because they were trying to get everything to fit in just one yard!), so I cut my waist ties a little more generously than you are supposed to.
  • The hot pads can be a bit tricky to sew, because they get so thick. I didn't hammer my edges flat, but it might be a good idea.
  • I felt that I needed an additional tack sewn in the hot pads, as they were still flopping out a bit with only one.  I added one more, about an inch from the first - this seems to work pretty well (see below):

I used white thread to put the tacks through the hot pads, and they are not very noticeable at all - I added red circles to the two photos above so that they are easier to find.

I think this may have to be my new go-to apron, at least for springtime.  No more searching for oven mitts!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some Placemats of One's Own

Normally, I don't make placemats for myself, because cloth placemats need to be washed and ironed, and who has the time?  So I have a collection of plastic placemats that I like pretty well.

But since Sew to Speak started stocking chalkboard fabric, I've had an idea for some kid-friendly placemats that I wanted to try.  The fact that April's Fabric by Fabric One-Yard Wonders sew along project includes placemats gave me the perfect nudge in the right direction.

I used oil cloth (I don't know the designer on the yellow check material) to border the chalkboard material, which I think makes for a rather festive canvas.  The backing is laminated cotton from Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi collection.  I would have used the Loulouthi as a border, but decided that the print was too big and the design might not be as lovely if I cut it in 4" strips.  Also, because I was planning to use them on the white counter (in addition to the table), I decided that I might not love having fabric with a white background against the white counter.

The kids are really happy about the placemats.  They have always loved making personalized namecards when setting the table for dinner, and these mats would be perfect for writing the names of guests.  

Now for some general instructions:
Materials needed for 4  14"x18" placemats:
  • 4 pieces of chalkboard fabric measuring 8"x12"
  • 8 pieces of border fabric (oilcloth or laminated cotton) measuring 4"x8"
  • 8 pieces of border fabric (oilcloth or laminated cotton) measuring 4"x18"
  • 4 pieces of backing fabric (oilcloth or laminated cotton) measuring 14"x18"

  • Right sides together, sew pieces of the 4"x8" oilcloth to the short ends of the chalkboard fabric.
  • Right sides together, sew pieces of the 4"x18" oilcloth to the long sides of the chalkboard fabric.
  • Topsitch around outside of the chalkboard fabric, about 1/8" away from the seams.  This should go through the seam allowances, hopefully holding everything together nicely (see below).

  • Right sides together, sew the backing fabric to the assembled front piece, leaving a rather large space (about 8") for turning.
  • Clip corners and turn.
  • Topsitch around outside edge of placemat, making sure to completely seal raw edges of the hole that you used for turning.

A few notes:
I used oilcloth and laminated cotton, but for next time, I would recommend using only one or the other for both the border and backing - the different weights of the fabrics made it a little tricky to assemble (though not  that difficult, it's just more of a challenge).
Even though one of my reasons for not wanting cloth placemats was not being willing to press them, oilcloth is tricky to work with, specifically because you can't press them.  I would have loved to be able to iron the seam allowances, but couldn't.  This is why the topstitching  to hold seam allowances in place is so important.

My Joanna, using the new placemats, eating much too big a bite of a burrito.

Eventually, I want to make similar placemats, but with scalloped edges.  I'll have to think some more about it -  this would make the topstitching and turning much more complex.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Upcoming projects

I really meant to work on some sewing projects last night, but this is what I did instead:

  • Baked two loaves of beer bread
  • Went on a run with my daughter
  • Started reading a new book
  • Fell asleep early (with the book lying open next to me)

Maybe that's why I love sewing so much - I know that it will be waiting for me when I get back.  When I do get around to working on these projects, these beautiful fabrics will be:

  • A top for me 
  • New potholders
  • A stuffed cat toy
  • A skirt for my girl
  • And much more! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

And the quilting goes on...

I fully intended to be more present here over the long weekend, but I was just too busy working on projects!  A few weeks ago, I blogged about the beginning of a new quilt here.  I've been working on it off and on for the past few weeks, and it's come quite a long way.

I'm excited to have the piecing almost finished - just one more row across the bottom, which I may try to start this evening.  Right now, I think that I'll hand quilt using both red and white perle cotton thread - my idea is to quilt different size circles inside the squares.

I wish I could claim that I've been fussy-cutting all of the different pieces, but I haven't.  Taking that into consideration, this is probably my favorite part of the quilt so far:

Cute, isn't it?

I predict that I'll end up taking much longer than I would like to finish it, but I'm excited anyway.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lots o' Links

It's a well known fact that good aunts need to bring gifts when visiting little baby nephews.  And this aunt likes to make her own gifts.

This toy is yet another pattern from 'Sew What you Love'. (Are you sick of hearing about this book?  I am loving it!)  I was very haphazard with my fabrics, using whatever I happened to find that looked like it could pass for a little boy print.  I'm feeling pretty good about it.  There's some Ikea fabric, Lotta Jansdotter, Cloud9, and I don't know what else - some random fat quarters.

After each piece is stuffed, this pattern does require a bit of hand stitching, which is not my most favorite thing in the world, but it turned out fine.  If I were making this pattern again, I would probably either make the base of the cone a little wider, or make the largest link a little smaller - it seems to want to slip off the bottom a bit.  

As you can see, rather than just being circles for stacking, the pieces can be linked together to make a chain.  I remember that baby Joanna loved toys that could be made into links when she was little, so I'm hoping Arlo will feel the same way.

Really, I just used our trip to Nashville as an excuse to make something new for Arlo - I'm glad I did, but he would have been just as happy with nothing at all.