Thursday, December 24, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mark My Words

I am very fortunate to have a great group of ladies that I run around with. Some I've met through my kids, some at the gym. But they are all so smart, funny, creative, motivating, and such a positive force in my life. I'm very fortunate!

Several of these fantastic ladies are part of a group that gets together and plays bunco once a month. Yes, bunco...that "housewife" game. Honestly, it's a chance to get together and complain about our kids/husbands/etc (all with love, of course!), drink a little, and eat good food. There is minimal skill involved (you do have to add your score, but that's what calculators are for, right?) and we always have a whole lot of laughs. Oh and we play for money too.

Almost all of us in this group are avid readers. Last year I made all the ladies fabric bookmarks and passed them out at our December bunco game. They were such a hit that I decided to do it again.

This year I wanted to make something a little different from last year. A few months ago, I stumbled upon the perfect thing: a corner bookmark. There are different versions out there, but I really liked this tutorial by KZJO's Studio.

I love how this cute bookmark just hugs the corner of the page:

I only made a couple of changes. Instead of heavyweight interfacing, I cut the interfacing pattern piece out of lightweight cardboard and slipped that in.

I also tweaked one of the assembly steps a little to accommodate my own laziness.

These bookmarks are just the perfect little gift. They are cute, different than your standard bookmark, and not to mention useful! I think the ladies liked them!

Monday, December 14, 2009


I've kind of been in Christmas project mode lately, mostly working on gifts. As usual, I think I've bitten off more than I can chew. I always have grand plans for all the great things I'm going to make for presents, but there are not enough hours in the day and days in the week to get everything done.

I've also had some custom orders lately. One of my favorite projects that I've completed recently was for my friend Nicole. She works at the school that my kids attend and wanted something cute to carry her things to and from work. Last year I had given Nicole a bookmark made from Alexander Henry's "Bolero" fabric. She loved the bold colors and print of this fabric and wanted it somehow incorporated into her bag.

The print is pretty "loud," so she didn't want it to be the main body of the bag. We decided to pair it with a khaki fabric and use the "Bolero" print for the interior. I used a basic tote bag pattern.....

....and then jazzed up the exterior a bit by making an applique out of one of the flowers in the fabric.

I also added an interior pocket for keys or a cell phone.

Then to complete the set, I made her a matching zippered pouch and a lanyard for her school ID badge.

I loved seeing her at the school today, wearing her lanyard! And she said she loved showing off her new tote to her coworkers. I told her to send them my way!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Make the Season Bright

I love Christmas time. I love everything about it: the music, the decorations, the spirit of goodwill that seems to permeate the air. It's no great surprise that I love the Christmas Season....I was born on Christmas Day.

I wasn't actually due until the middle of January, but my mom woke up at 5am Christmas morning when her water broke. She told my dad that the baby was coming and his reply was, "That baby can't come today. It's the opening day of duck season and I'm going hunting." (I was born in Louisiana, Sportsman's Paradise).

Off to the the hospital they went and at 8pm Christmas Day I made my entrance. The doc held me up and said "This baby is no bigger than a 6 pound bass!" And I was exactly 6 pounds.

There were only two babies born that day, and instead of sending us home in the typical receiving blankets, the nurses wrapped us up and sent us home in red flannel stockings that they decorated with our names. My mom saved it and I have it in a box somewhere.

My favorite holiday activity by far is decorating the tree. My Christmas ornaments are some of my most prized possessions. If my house was on fire, I'd want to grab my photos and my ornaments (my family is a given).

Most of my ornaments are handmade or were given to us. All of them have special meaning or a story behind them.

I have several that were made by my mother, like this poinsettia made from wired ribbon....

.....or this angel made from a silk rose.

I have quite a few ornaments from my childhood that my mother passed down to me. Like this angel that my mom and I hand painted when I was a little girl:

Or this wreath I made when I was a Brownie in the Girl Scouts:

Some of my most prized ornaments are the ones that were made by my grandmother, who passed away when I was a teenager. I love this mouse tucked in his little walnut shell bed:

Most of the ornaments come from my family, but I do have a few from my husband's family, like these red bells that were knitted by his mother:

And of course, we have several ornaments made by our kids at school, like this bell made with baked spices and applesauce that smells wonderful:

Many of my favorite ornaments were given to me by my aunt and celebrate my Louisiana heritage. Like this shrimp:

And this flying alligator, which is a character from "The Cajun Night Before Christmas" by Trosclair:

My absolute favorite is this poinsettia made from crawfish claws and pieces of oyster shell:

My kids have their favorites too. One of the ones they can't wait to hang on the tree each year are their Santa's sleigh bells from the year we rode the Polar Express in Durango, CO.

Sometimes I do buy new ornaments. If I do, I like them to have that homemade look like this Christmas tree made from wooden spools....

.....or this knitted poinsettia.

Sometimes they catch my eye because they have some kind of meaning. This year I picked up this one:

My husband is British and it reminds me of our trips to England.

To finish off the tree, I have a garland of wooden beads and buttons....

....and a tree skirt quilted by my mother.

At the top of the tree is an angel that I made when my husband and I were first married. Yes, she has a chin like Jay Leno, but she's quirky and I like that.

She's not a big tree, she's not a fancy tree. There is no theme, no expensive decorations. But she's a good tree, full of love and special meaning.

What are some of your favorite ornaments?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let's Hear It For the Boys!

Everyone that knows me well knows that I prefer to sew clothing for girls. Who doesn't?! I mean, there's so many more choices of patterns, fabrics, etc for girls. And girls can wear ruffles....I ♥ ♥ ♥ ruffles!

So over the past year, I've focused on sewing for little girls. Time for a change! Little boys need cute, handmade outfits too, right? Right!

With the holiday season right around the corner, I decided to make something festive that a toddler boy could wear. I pulled out my favorite elastic-waist pants pattern and put on my thinking cap.

When I think of making little boys pants, I immediately think "corduroy." And luckily, I have some great, buttery soft corduroy in my "stash."

But the pants needed something more. I decided to add a wide cuff in a cute holiday fabric.

Then I took white, long-sleeved, cotton shirts (purchased on clearance from Target!) and made a coordinating applique.

And what do you know...a cute holiday outfit for a little boy!

And do you know what? I had fun making this outfit. Sure, there's no ruffles....but it's still cute!

I have two of these outfits available in my shop right now, Size 18 months and Size 24 months.

And while you're looking, check out my other holiday outfits here and here!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hanging Around

Okay, okay. I know....I've been a blogging slacker lately. But I've been busy! Really, really busy!

In my last post, I mentioned that I am participating in a craft fair at my kids' school. Well, I've been sewing my fingers to the bone trying to get ready for it. I've never done anything like this before, so I really have no clue what I'm doing. I'm totally flying without a net here. But the booth rental fee was only $30 and goes to the PTA, so I figure if nothing else, I'm being a good parent and making a donation.

But what to make? Like I mentioned before, I'm making some gift-type items (tis the holiday shopping season!) and some of my favorite styles of outfits. I'll also take a certain number of customs orders. I've tried to sew out of my stash as much as possible, so it has mostly been an investment of my time (a lot of time based on the "disaster area" status of my house right now) and not so much money.

Here's one the things I've been working on:

No, it's not fabric spaghetti. It's lanyards:

Lanyards? But I make children's items! Yes, I know. But since this is a school event, I thought cute lanyards would be a great, unique gift idea for people to pick up for their children's teacher.

A much more fashionable way to wear an ID badge or keep your keys close, don't you think? I have given one to my son's teachers, and it always makes me smile to see that they still wear them.

I dug in my "stash" and tried to pick a variety of fabrics. There's some fun bold and graphic prints....

And some great fall-inspired colors and prints.

How about Asian-inspired? (I think these are my faves)

Or maybe something a little more "teacher traditional." Apples and children....

I also made some using basic stripes....

...and some with pretty pink fabrics.

I've cranked out 2 dozen of these puppies. I sure hope they sell. If not, I'm set for teacher gifts for the rest of my kids' academic careers!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Little Birdie Told Me....

I've been a busy bee lately! My children's school is having a craft fair next month as a fundraiser for the PTA. For $30, you get a 6ft table and a chance to "sell your wares." I've never done any kind of craft fair before. Since this is a small one and a way to help out the school, I decided to give it a go.

But what to make?!? After much thought, I've decided to mainly make some gift-type items that people could pick up for the holidays. (More about those at a later date!)

But what I really enjoy sewing is clothes for little girls. So I'm going to make some different outfits in different sizes and have them available. I'm also going to have a "portfolio" of the different items I can/have created and take custom orders. Is this the best way to go about it? I don't know. But I'm going to give it a try and see how it goes.

So what am I making? Yesterdays project was all about rich colors and ruffles. I found this great fabric the other day and fell in love with the colors: purple, orange, green...all on a soft blue background. I'm also loving the sweet birdie print.

I decided to make a layered ruffle skirt with a long-sleeved, peasant-style blouse.

I love this skirt. It has an elastic, drop-waist and two gently-ruffled layers. It's simple to make and goes together quickly. And it would look adorable layered over some cute tights or leggings.

I decided to pair it with a loose-fitting, peasant-style blouse. I added a ruffle detail to the bottom and a "birdie" applique to the front.

I'm loving this outfit so much...I'm glad I made it in my daughter's size, just in case I decided to keep it!

Happy Sewing!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Ba!

It's October! Fall is in the air. For adults, that means leaves, pumpkins, and cool weather. For kids, it's all about Halloween and what they are going to wear for a costume. [I wrote about last year's costume adventures here and here]

I always tell people that my goal is for my kids to be "slightly nerdy." Not nerdy enough to be made fun of, but too nerdy to get invited to any of the "cool" parties. And I go on to say that knowing my daughter, she'll go on to be the stereotypical Captain of the cheerleading squad.

Funny.....My daughter wants to be a cheerleader for Halloween.

This really is ironic. I wanted to be a cheerleader once upon a time. I was a gymnast for several years and when I was in Jr. High, I decided I would try out for the cheerleading squad. I even went to a couple of days of the "camp." Then one of the older girls who was already on the squad told me that yes, I could really tumble, but I would never make it because I just wasn't pretty enough. So I quit before the tryouts were even over. Mean girls SUCK!

Since this is the kind of costume that she will probably enjoy playing dress up in long after Halloween is over, I wanted it to be something nice. The cheerleader costumes in the store are so thin and cheap, so I decided to make it.

I dug around for just the right pattern and came up with this, Simplicity 4040

She originally wanted blue & white, but after she saw the red & white one on the cover, that's what she had to have.

I used a polyester knit, which was actually quite easy to sew with. It irons nicely and didn't give me any problems. I used a flat, white, braided-cotton trim for the white stripes. The most time-consuming part of the entire thing was the front of the bodice. Here's a picture of it in progress:

I spent and hour and a half getting those stripes just right. T-E-D-I-O-U-S!
Once I got the bodice finished, I had to move on to the skirt. I'd never made a pleated skirt before. It wasn't that bad. The pattern instructions were pretty clear. I just did a lot of pinning, pressing, and basting to get them just right.
And one other stroke of luck with this project: the two zippers were easy. I never say that about zippers. I hate zippers and avoid them as much as possible. But these went in just right on the first try. Rarely does that happen.
Needless to say, she loves it! She wanted it sleeveless, and if it's cool on Halloween (it usually isn't here in AZ), she can always wear a long-sleeved white t-shirt underneath.

Here's a view of the back:

And let's talk again about that hair. I know she loves her long hair, but does she really appreciate how great her hair is? I mean, people pay good money to get that color and body! She didn't get it from me. I'm so jealous.....

Now I need to find her some red & white pompoms...she has some old blue ones right now.
As for my son, he wants to be Harry Potter. And after pricing out how much it would be to make a long, black Hogwart's robe, I found it more cost-effective to buy a costume off of ebay.

What are your kids going to be for Halloween?