I don’t know about the rest of you, but I intend to spend tonight glued to the sofa, watching the election results unfold. A hand-sewing project comes in awfully handy at times like these, doesn’t it? Here you can see the progress I’ve made so far on the quilt/wall hanging I posted about awhile back, starting with the help of some good friends on our annual beach trip. It’s coming along much slower than if I’d decided to piece it by machine, but I’m really enjoying the slow pace and the portability. Especially tonight, as I’m going to need something to keep me from biting my nails down any further!
The internet feels like a ghost town this Halloween afternoon. Get it? Ghost town? On Halloween? I’m cracking myself up here…
I’m guessing everyone’s finishing up costumes or putting the final touches on their Halloween lawn art or maybe laughing it up with co-workers at office parties or what-have-you. When y’all are done with Halloween this weekend, though, do check out the premier issue of the new sewing magazine, Stitch. Put out by the folks at Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors, but with a much more modern feel, this issue is billed as a "sewing magazine for the 21st century." If the incredible asymmetrically-folded skirt on the front cover is any indication, that’s just right. The best part is that the patterns for this skirt and two other lovelies are included in the magazine as well, with two others available as free downloads here. (And I promise that their kind write-up of Spoonflower had nothing to do with the making of this blog post!)
Thanks to my good friend, Kat, now a contributing blogger for my local fabulous quilt store’s blog for the tip. Now I wonder if I could squeeze one of those skirts in for myself before the real holiday gift sewing begins in earnest….
Probably like most of you, I have a fabric scrap basket that overfloweth. One of our 3-1/2 year old daughter’s favorite pastimes these days is using the longish scraps to tie things around the house. She ties up furniture. She ties together long strings of baby toys into crazy mobiles. She ties fabric up her own legs and arms. And memorably, the other night she tied Stephen to her bedside table so that, she thought, he’d be forced to stay there all night, keeping her company.
Untying things that we need–including Stephen–is getting a tad inconvenient, so I’ve been motivated lately to try to use up some of my scraps in a different sort of creative endeavor. This, coupled with my revived interest lately in making a larger-scale project, caused some distant memory bells to start ringing and I remembered the work of Sherri Lynn Wood.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet this fiber artist in person a couple of times–at an art fair, the farmer’s market, and also at a yard sale that she and some other artist types were having a couple of years ago. (I got several yards of vintage trims and a hat knitted by her very own hands that day–score!) I don’t know her any more than that, but remember her as incredibly tranquil and peaceful. It was no surprise to me when I found out that she has a masters in theology in addition to her artistic training. An interesting mix, no?
Sherri teaches workshops on how to make passage quilts, which are improvisational and intended to help the individual sewer work through transitions in her life. I love this idea, though don’t feel like I’m particularly transitional at the moment. I am, however, looking forward to my annual beach trip with my college girlfriends this weekend. So instead of a passage quilt, I’m starting my first ever "Dang, time is passing!" quilt. My hope is that my four oldest friends will help me piece together some scraps into an improvisational something during our trip. See my scraps? None of my friends sew at all, so I have no idea what sort of response I’ll get from them. I’ve known one of them since we were 10 years old, and the rest of them since we were around 18 or 20. That’s a loooooong time, right? So I’m hoping for some good stitching love! I’ll let y’all know what happens.
Halloween is almost here! And for those of you who are like me and procrastinate til the last minute figuring out your costume, here is a fun and easy idea to make for yourself, your kids, your partner, or your pets–
Here, Kim and I don our new fabric masks. Kim’s is a no-sew mask with tie-on straps included in the design and starch as a stiffening agent–great for those of us strapped for time. The mask I’m wearing is a sewn mask, with heavy-weight interfacing on the front, a lining, and an elastic band. This one is a bit sturdier and great for masks that will hang out in the dress-up bin and get continual wearing because they can be washed easily.
We are offering these for you to download! You can leave them as is, or tweak them to make them your own, then upload them to your own Spoonflower account and order them. There are many fun ideas for fabric masks:
Like mine would make a much better Frankenstein than a robot… Frankenstein, a Mardi Gras mask, a robot, a monkey, a lion (adding lots and lots of yarn for a mane– *how cute*), the cone heads… the possibilities are endless!
Erin at A Dress a Day and I are psychically linked. I’m sure of it, because why else would I have posted about my new dress yesterday and then learned from her that Monday was International Wear a Dress Day? Even greater, Erin has declared it Wear a Dress Week now, so you still have time to get your dress groove on and post pictures of yourself in all your dressy glory to her Flickr pool. (Put DNB in your notes if you don’t want her to include your frock in a blog post.)
I have been thinking about a dress made up with this fabric, three yards of which I have calling to me from my sewing basket. Any pattern suggestions, y’all?
Inspired by Sarah over at Jinjur mentioning last week that she had finished the last of her summer projects, I used this weekend to work on a summer dress for myself that I’ve been meaning to make for, oh, the last year. Here it is, made up in Sofia cotton lawn by Robert Kaufman. The pattern is the Prairie Girl dress pattern from Favorite Things. I am so crazy about this fabric that I’m trying to figure out ways to use up the last little scrap–lining a bag, maybe, or a little coin purse. Maybe backing a lightweight linen scarf…
I hope you all were able to get around to projects for yourselves this weekend, too!
I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but I sometimes have trouble with wanting to do too much, creatively speaking. My big attempt last week to get organized on the handmade gifts front has backfired in a weird way. Yes, I’ve got a working list now of all the projects I plan to make for friends, kids, and family this winter, and have even completed a couple of the simpler ones. But in gearing up for creative production mode, I unwittingly stepped into the time-stealing quagmire of a new obsession–making books.
While poking around in search of a handmade sketch book tutorial for the doodlers on my list, I found this wonderful book. At Spoonflower, we’ve had bookbinders email us before with questions about fabric for cloth bound books, but it wasn’t until I started reading this book that I realized how many similarities there are between sewing and bookbinding. I had no idea, for example, that paper had a straight of grain the way that fabric does. I did know that sometimes book bindings were sewn together, but I didn’t know how appealing exposed stitches could look on a handmade book binding. There is just enough similarity to sewing for me to feel undaunted, but little enough for the prospect of making books to be very intriguing indeed.
I like to take baby steps when embarking on something new and potentially wallet-worrying, so back to that fabric in books idea. Esther Smith offers a couple of jumping off points for cloth books–"for babies of all ages," as she puts it–and I can imagine how much fun it would be to design some fabric to print up for just this purpose. It could be something as simple as a printed, custom cover for the front of your fabric book, or as elaborate as a posterized collection of family photos sewed into a cloth baby book. If you prefer your books be made of paper, thanks, there are also tutorials out there for turning fabric into book cloth to be adhered to board for a different kind of book’s cover (though Smith doesn’t discuss that in her book).
I’m adding a cloth baby book to my littlest girl’s Christmas gift list right…now. And I’ll keep you posted on whether the new obsession ends there.
Thanks to all of you who suggested such awesome boy-friendly handmade gifts on my last post. For those of you who missed it, do check out the comments on this post. There are some really inspired ideas that might help you out with your own handmade holiday gift list, whether for boys or girls! The photo left there shows some felt crowns in progress for some of the littler people on my list. I got the pattern out of Creative Family, but tweaked it a bit.
Even nicer for our family in particular is that this list inspired not only me but also my two older daughters to brainstorm handmade gifts for everyone we could think of! I was so proud of my ten-year old especially. Not only did she come up with some lovely ideas for family members, she actually got started making some of them. I swear, at one point I left the room for a few minutes and when I came back she had strung up a necklace for my mom’s gift already! Then a few minutes later, she had drafted a stuffed toy pattern for her baby sister and was all ready to go upstairs to choose fabric and bust out the ironing board! Those of you out there who know my oldest know that it is hard indeed to pry a book out of her fingers and get her off her preferred reading spot on the sofa. She tends to lose steam with craft projects pretty quickly, but this time she was so excited. The sheer variety of making possibilities is what did it, I think.
Here’s hoping that you and your families all had similarly inspired weekends!
It feels a bit premature with our thermometers here in NC still recording temperatures in the upper 80’s and 90’s, but I’ve begun thinking about Christmas gifts. Stephen and I have resolved this year to end the spending free-for-all that seems to happen each winter despite our best intentions and to make all our gifts this time around. That means whatever the mercury says, I need to get crackin’!
My will is strong, but the ideas? Not so much, at least when I consider a couple of the people on my list. My girls are easy. Some matching nightgowns would thrill the older two, and there are countless inspiring project ideas out there for stuffed critters, dolls, doll accessories, and other playthings that would make all three very happy. My friends are easy, too, though I won’t disclose here what it is I have in mind for them. (Something involving burnout silk velvet–yummy!)
The hard ones on my list are my two little brothers. They’re 8-year old twin boys, waaaaay into the plastic junk from China, thanks very much. So what in the world am I going to make these guys? Maybe a guitar strap for the one who’s just started taking lessons? Perhaps some handmade books for drawing? (Thanks to Soulemama for that idea.) If y’all have any suggestions, feel free to send them my way. I always want to give gifts that please the recipient, but when I’m going to the trouble of making that special present–especially if the recipient is a young’un not known (ahem) for their diplomacy–I really want it to be something pleasing. Anyone else out there done any successful handmaking for boys who prefer plastic?
I wrote recently that running a craft-related business left me with little time to do any sewing of my own anymore and…well, that made me a bit grumpy for a few days, I must confess. So when I found myself this weekend with only a sleeping baby in the car with me to keep track of and knew that she would stay asleep (transferred to her stroller, of course) if I ran a quick errand, I headed to a nearby thrift store to rustle up some vintage sheets!
Scouring the bins and racks at the thrift shop was something I enjoyed very much in college. I had tons of free time before my kids were born, very little money, and a taste for old stuff that wasn’t just like everyone else’s stuff. As a busy mama to three girls, though, it’s been some time since I had the time required to score the good stuff. You avid thrift shoppers out there will surely agree that you’ve gotta have time to really go through things.
Anyway, I wasn’t sure if, with all the crafting going on around me locally these days, there’d be much in the way of vintage anything left to score. But guess what–there is! I got a great haul of eight vintage sheets plus a pillowcase. It totally made my weekend!
Even better was that I had the time to actually make something from my haul. Check out my middle girl’s new pilowcase dress, made up from Red Instead’s easy instructions. If I hadn’t needed to patch the pillowcase in a couple of places because of some unnoticed worn spots, I bet this would have gone together in less than an hour. I was dismayed when I saw the yucky worn spots, but was inspired to do some applique patches after running across this tutorial on the Sew Mama Sew! blog. They’re made from some fussy cut Kaffe Fassett flowers and now I’m glad I needed to add them!