Monday, December 29, 2008

The Stockings Were Hung....

Last year my Christmas present to my best friend was a promise to design and make stockings for her entire family. I'm still working on Mom & Dad but I finished the kids' stockings in time for the holidays.


Hanging on the mantle



Griffin's snowball fight stocking


Lydia's snowboard stocking

Stella's snowman stocking

These were fun to make and the older kids gave input on the designs. The stockings are made of felt. I used fusible web for the appliques and did a blanket stitch around each piece. All the details are hand embroidered.


Lydia approved :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Red coats, good friends and hot chocolate from Burdick's




Holiday movies, especially this one



And my all time favorite



Max in his santa coat


Especially when he's sleeping

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We had our first snow of the season today. It was just a dusting but it's starting to feel like the holidays. I met my friend Jenn at the annual Bazaar Bizarre to do some Christmas shopping and then walked back to the T thrCheck Spellingu the Copley Place and Prudential Center to check out all the holiday decorations. It definitely put me in the holiday spirit.

Sadly, still no tree as I have a few projects to finish up before I can pack away the sewing machine that is currently set up in the middle of the living room. But I did want to share our newest Christmas ornament:



It makes me smile everytime I look at it. I had it custom made by an Etsy shop called Lynn's Little Creations. She does beautiful work and I was impressed with how quickly she was able to put it together. If you are looking for something special I would highly recommend her shop.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Canine Couture



I've been working on a number of projects for the holidays but I don't want to spoil any surprises by sharing them here. However, I couldn't resist posting my first attempt at canine couture because I know the recipient and her owner don't read the blog.

I stuck pretty close to the original pattern, using some black wool I picked up a yard sale this summer (for free!), faux fur for the lining and collar and hot pink topstitching. I love the result as modeled by our stuffed friend Winston and I think it will look even better on the stylish Jack Russell terrier who will be recieving it for Christmas.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Countdown Begins



I can hardly believe Christmas is right around the corner! No tree yet as that would require packing away the sewing machine and I still have a few gifts to finish up but I was inspired to create a new Advent calendar. Mine is based on this pattern from the adorable Allsorts blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wishing....

Just in case Santa is reading, I thought I would mention that I am in LOVE with this collage from doe-c-doe's beautiful Etsy shop.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sue's White Chili

My aunt Sue has been talking up her white chili for some time now and I finally decided to give it a try. She says it tastes better the next day but I can't confirm that since we ate the whole pot.



Sue's white chili with corn bread

If you would like to give it a try here's the recipe:

1-2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut up
1 can chicken broth
1 can cannelini beans rinsed and drained
1 can green chilis, not drained
chopped onion
garlic
cumin to taste
Put chicken broth, onion, garlic and cut up chicken in pot and simmer til warmed through, Add beans and chilis and cumin, cook for 5-10 minutes. Serve. Great with corn muffins on the side.

I garnished it with a little shredded cheddar and a couple crushed up torilla chips. It's a lighter twist on traditional chili (especially if you skip the garnish) and while the chilis add a nice flavor it's not too spicy. It definitely hit the spot on a chilly (pun intended) evening.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just Do It




When you're done treat yourself to a free coffee at Starbucks or free ice cream at Ben & Jerry's.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Slippers version 2.0

While I loved the look of my first slippers, they were made of two layers of thin cotton and not particularly warm. I had some extra fabric left over so I decided to make a new pair, adding a layer of warm & natural cotton batting to the uppers and another layer to the insoles.



I cut the pieces slightly larger (I just eyeballed it) to accomodate the extra bulk and adjusted the fit as I went along. I kept the quilting lines simple so as not to compete with the bold print.

I'm really pleased with the both the look and the added warmth. I wear them all the time and they seem to holding up to the heavy use. I would definitely make these again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Quilt is Famous!

I'm so excited! My quilt was featured on the amazing Sew Mama Sew blog today!



Welcome to everyone stopping in by way of Sew Mama Sew. Take a look around and, if you're so inclined, please leave a comment.
Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Supermodel





I just had to share these adorable photos of Miss Stella rocking her retro 80s tee! You may remember this shirt from my original post here. It looks so much better on the model.

So young and yet she's already learning how to deal with the paparazzi. Watch out Mom, this one's going to be a handful!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Score!

I stopped in my local thrift store last night and hit the jackpot. I found 4 vintage Vera Neumann scarves for $1.99 each! Actually the first 3 were $1.99 and the 4th was free with my coupon.--SCORE! Clearly I was taught well by my thrifty (cheap) dad and mom whose favorite sport is yard saling.

Here are some pics of my beautiful new scarves:







I'm no expert, but from what I was able to find online about the changes in her signature I would guess these date from the early 60s-mid70s. They probably don't hold much real value as vintage Vera scarves, while collectible, are still fairly easy to find in vintage stores and these do show some signs of age (a few pin holes and some small spots). But for $6 they are definitely one of my favorite finds. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with them. I could wear them as intended or maybe repurpose them into something fabulous like this.
Hmmmm...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cold Feet

Now that the weather is getting colder, it's time for some new slippers. Instead of buying a new pair, I decided to attempt to make my own. I used this pattern and some fun fabric I had in my stash.



I have to admit I struggled a bit with the pattern. It looked simple but the whole process just took a lot longer than I anticipated. I might have just been having an off day but I felt like I spent more time with the seam ripper than the sewing machine on this project. Also, handsewing the soles was quite time consuming.

Despite the difficulty, they are comfy and I like the funky mismatched look of the fabric I used. They could stand to be a bit warmer, but the wool felt soles take off a bit of chill. When winter sets in I might be inspired to try another pair with some modifications to add some warmth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quilt Accomplished

I finally finished my quilt. It took several months and quite a bit of cursing but I'm really pleased with the result. Here are lots of pics:

quilt top

quilt back



close-up

I'm so glad I took June's advice and invested in a walking foot for my machine. It definitely made the quilting process much easier. I'm also grateful to this helpful tutorial on continuous quilt binding. I think it will be a while before I attempt another project of this size, but it feels good to know that I can do it.



action shot


gratuitous adorable cat photo

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mmmmm. Good.

We're in the middle of a September N'oreaster. It's cold, gray and rainy and the perfect day for some baked goodness. These coconut chocolate chip bars hit the spot.



Here's the recipe I used. It is adapted from this version:

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT BARS
2/3 c. butter, 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. white sugar, 2 eggs, 3 tbsp. water, 1 tsp. vanilla, 2 c. all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, 1 pkg. chocolate chips, 1/2 c. chopped pecans.

Mix in order given. Pour in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cut in bars while warm.



They are best when eaten with a cold glass of milk. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

T-shirt trial

I have to admit I have a fear of sewing with knit fabrics but I'm interested in attempting apparel sewing so I figured it was time to face my fears. I thought it was best to start with something classic so I attempted a simple t-shirt (the "muslin" was made from an old jersy sheet). It was much easier than I anticipated and I'm particularly happy with how the sleeves look.



I had the walking foot on my machine from a previous project and because I was too lazy to change it I just left it on for this project. It worked really well and the next time I'm sewing with knits I will specifically put the walking foot on. I also used a ball point needle which was helpful.


Of course the shirt is far from perfect. The bottom hem is clearly wonky, but I'm at least feeling more confident and maybe ready to give it a shot with some nicer fabric.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

No More A.C. Moore For Me

Sometimes a coupon just isn't worth it. If you been following my blog, you may remember this crosstitch piece adapted from Charley Harper's work.



Sadly, this picture is all that remains after I took it, along with two other pieces, to A.C. Moore for framing. Of the three pieces I took in only one was returned in acceptable condition. The second piece was damaged (a thread was pulled out) and then "repaired" without my permission (the offending thread was cut from the front of the piece!!!) after I was advised to leave it at the store so a manager could review the damage. The third piece was lost entirely.

Despite repeated promises, I was never once called by the store regarding my order. I had to initiate all phone calls, even after leaving home, cell and work contact numbers. On a positive note I will say the store manager did immediately refund my entire framing order and offer free framing on any item of my choice --clearly, not an acceptable option. I choose instead to accept $250, the maximum allowable amount, for my missing artwork.

What I found most disturbing about the entire experience was that when I went to pick up my order the clerks at the framing desk were sympathetic and said my experience was not uncommon and that they have had a number of similar problems with the company they send artwork to for framing. Gee, if you keep losing/damaging your customers' artwork, perhaps it's time to find another vendor.

Anyway, just a heads up in case you are planning on having anything framed. If it's worth more than $250 to you, you probably don't want to take it to A.C. Moore.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Project Storage

I seem to have a lot of projects in progress so I decided to make some bags to store them.


I cut up an old sheet and made a couple of simple drawstring bags in different sizes and, just for fun, decorated them with my logo using a simple freezer paper stencil.

Freezer paper is fast becoming one of my favorite craft items. If you are not familiar with it, one side is plain paper and the other is wax coated. The waxy side adheres to fabric when you iron it. It forms a firm bond, firm enough to keep a sharp edge when stenciling, but easily pulls away without leaving a mark when you are done. I've also recently started tracing pattern pieces onto freezer paper and ironing them to the fabric instead of pinning.


Here are the finished bags filled with my unfinished projects...



Now I suppose I should try to finish something!

Friday, August 29, 2008

80s embroidery

Spoiler Alert! If you know someone named Stella who is having her first birthday party this weekend, you might want to skip this post.

Honestly, it's been a busy few weeks on the crafting front and I had initially decided that I would purchase a gift for Miss Stella, but then I fell in love with Stitchado's unicorn embroidery design and decided it would be perfect for a fashion forward one year old. And, since the unicorn brought on a serious 80s flashback I couldn't resist creating a Strawberry Shortcake design to go along with it.

Embroidering on knit fabric was quite a challenge. I attempted to work with a t-shirt stabilizer but found it a bit unwieldy so in the end I just used a small hoop and tried to be mindful of the fabric tension making sure it was taut but not too stretched out. They are definitely not perfect but fortunately the cuteness factor of the designs covers up a multitude of sins.

If anyone has tips or suggestions for embroidering on knit fabrics please leave them in the comments. I'm thinking these might also be cute on t-shirts for older girls.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Big Reveal


Luke Wiley's mom, photo courtesy of Brenda

The secret can now be revealed. The bluebonnets shown here are featured on my friend Kari's new diaper bag. She's a proud Texan living in Boston and I wanted the bag to reflect her roots. For those of you who don't know, bluebonnets are the official flower of Texas. As a native New Englander, I have not seen many (or any) bluebonnets so I was a little afraid my artistic interpretation might not translate but I'm thrilled to report that they were instantly indentified by the transplated Texans in attendance. What a relief, y'all!



Here's a closer look at the bag, complete with changing pad and case. I used Amy Butler's "nappy bag" pattern. It goes together pretty quickly (if you leave out the embroidery) and as with all Amy Butler patterns, the directions are explicit and easy to follow. Also I like that the paper pattern pieces are sturdy and hold up to repeated usage (this is my 4th nappy bag this year!).
For those of us without infants, this bag would be a good size for the gym or the beach. Obviously, I would eliminate the bottle pockets and changing pad, although a modified version of the case might be perfect for stowing a pair of flip flops.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sneak Peek




Here's a sneak peek of a larger project that I can't share just yet. I designed the bluebonnets and embroidered them by hand. It was particularly challenging because a transferred pattern would not show up on the dark fabric so I had to do the embroidery freehand. I won't lie, there was a lot of cursing along the way but in the end it's pretty close to how I had envisioned it.

More details on the finished project soon.