Mackenzie’s Here!


Mackenzie made her appearance, weighing in at a tiny five pounds.  She felt just like a little baby doll—I have never held a baby that small.


For her first gift, I made her a pair of stuffed elephants with fabrics that match her baby quilt.  I added the name and birthdate—these were sewn up in a mad dash the night before we visited her in the hospital.



The pattern for these little guys is free and can be found here.


LOTS of changing pads


When I had my second baby, I made myself a changing pad.  It took a lot of time because I made up the pattern as I went along.  My sister-in-law, Beth, saw it and wanted one for her pregnant sister-in-law, so I made a second.  More recently, Beth became pregnant, and the above changing pad is for her.  She really likes neutral colors, and this is a similar style to the baby quilt I made for my new little nephew.  For this cover, though, I used a quilt-as-you-go method.


Around the same time, I also had a double baby shower to attend, and since the grandmother-to-be is also a quilter, I didn’t want to make a quilt as I normally would, so I decided to make changing pads instead.  One was for a girl, and the other for a boy.




The above pad is for my best friend, Laura.  She’s having the girl and wanted to do her nursery with Julie Rothman’s Ride fabrics, but her husband didn’t like it, so she went another direction.  At least she gets to use these sweet little bicycles some other way!



This next one is for a little boy, and the mother liked aqua and orange.  I was hoping this would turn out boyish enough, and I think it could really be gender neutral, but I love the way the QAYG method looks with these changing pads. 




I’ve learned quite a lot about making changing pads after this round.  I made mine a lot thicker and more padded, but they work much better with only one layer of batting.  I’ve also found I prefer oilcloth for the inside instead of the cotton laminate, which is more expensive.  If I make more in the future, I’m sure I’ll get even better (and faster!) at the process.  I really need to make myself some cutting guidelines.  As it is, I just remeasure my own changing pad every time, but that definitely takes some extra time!

A Pillow for Amy


My friend recently had a second trimester miscarriage.  The baby had a genetic disorder, and my poor friend and her husband knew for a while before they lost the baby that the pregnancy most likely would end in the first or second trimester.  I can’t imagine how painful it is for them, but they’ve handled it all with such grace.


Having never experienced that kind of loss myself, I wanted to make something for my friend, but I didn’t really know whether she would want a constant reminder in sight or not.  However, I think one of the worst things a person can do is behave as if the baby wasn’t real or wasn’t as important as a baby who came to full term.


So, as I would do for any other new baby, I decided to make a baby quilt of sorts.  I made it into a pillow cover but also put hanging pocket triangles in the corners in case my friend wanted to use it as a wall hanging instead.  My friend loves yellow and gray, and this is probably close to the same design I would have used for a bigger baby quilt anyway.


On the back I embroidered the baby’s name (they got to hold her and named her when she was born) and birth date.


Owl Bag and Pouch


My very good friend just decided to start selling Origami Owl products.  It’s a home-party based jewelry company that mainly sells locket-type necklaces that you can fill with charms.  It’s pretty cute stuff, and she’s really excited to get started.  She was asking me the other day about owls and owl-print fabric, etc. so I decided to make her something to help her get started.

First, she was talking about needing a bag to carry stuff in.  I recently stopped selling Stampin’ Up! products, and I was going to put my bag on a yard sale.  This bag is nothing special—it’s just a black canvas bag that I got for free from Archiver’s with a large purchase, but it’s really sturdy, and it’s black, so it doesn’t show dirt.  I don’t need it anymore, but it’s perfect for home party supplies.  I thought about making a bag, but thought this would definitely be easier, and since I don’t know where to buy the vinyl backed sturdy canvas fabric, it would probably be more utilitarian than anything I could make as well.  So, I drew up an owl and worked out an applique.


I used fusible web for all the fabric pieces and then free-motion sewed around the edges so it looks a little sketchy.  This was my first time using this technique (usually I use thread that matches better), and I LOVED how it turned out.  I think it really makes the design pop a lot more than just using matching thread or thread that blends in to the fabric.  I will definitely be doing this in the future, perhaps even with my little owl again.


I also made her a little zipper pouch to use for cash/change and checks.  I made this little guy in the same way, but he’s much smaller (and therefore cuter!).  I also like the colors/fabrics I used on him a lot better than the ones I used for the large owl and the linen rather than a black background.  On the small owl, I ironed on each piece before I began stitching.  On the big guy, I ironed on a piece, stitched, and then repeated the process.  In the future, I’ll do all the ironing at once.  It saved so much time, and I think it’s as sturdy or even sturdier than the slower method.  I sewed three passes on each line.  This was easy because I didn’t have to go around a piece all at once.  I could do a back and forth  motion for an inch or two and then continue.  On the little guy, it didn’t matter so much, but when working with a bulkier piece (like the bag), it really makes things a lot easier.




I used this Robert Kauffman owl print for the back of the pouch and for a little pocket inside.  I love this little owl applique so much that I might have to make one for myself.  I so wish I had made a copy of my drawing before I cut it up to use it as a pattern.  I still have the pattern pieces, though, so I might be able to get a few more tracings out of them before they wear out.

Boxie Swap Pouch


I’ve joined yet another swap…I’m addicted.  I think I’ll be a little more selective on which swaps I join from now on—after all, one can use only so many pouches.  Still, I’ve had quite a bit of fun making swap pouches lately.  For this pouch, I used a free pattern from craftsy.  It’s a boxie pouch, and it will really hold quite a bit.  I love how wide it opens when it’s unzipped.  I think I would like this better for makeup than the traditional style makeup bags.


I lined it with a Denyse Schmidt print from Joann’s that I had on my shelf.  I was going to hand quilt with white thread but decided to use red at the last minute, and I think that’s my favorite part of the pouch.


I just lucked out that the placement of the patchwork and stitching worked well with the seams in the pouch.  I had never used this pattern before, so I was kind of flying blind, but it worked out great in the end, so at least I won’t have to redo anything.


The other cool feature about this pouch is that it stores flat—what a space saver!  I won’t be mailing this off until the end of February so my partner can still enjoy some suspense for a while.  I’m one of the first to finish in this swap, and it’s never good to end the fun too early by finding out who your partner is.  Half the fun is guessing which project is yours!

FAbric Suggestions?

I’ve decided to make a Go Anywhere Bag by Noodlehead to use as a diaper bag.

(Image from Noodlehead blog)

I love all the pockets, and I think it’s big enough to function well as a diaper bag.   If not, I can always use it as a purse, so it’s really a win-win situation.  However, I’m having trouble deciding on the fabric.  I’ve narrowed it down to four choices (all from my stash, I might add!).


The color isn’t great since I took these at night, when I actually had time to pull fabric out.  On each stack, the bottom fabric in the pair would be the fabric used for the outside pockets.  I tried to stick with darker colors on the outside so it wouldn’t show dirt too badly.


Option 1:  Brown, orange/yellow, and pale blue.  I love this fabric, but I’m not sure if it looks to old-ladyish on a purse.


Option 2:  I also love this fabric combo, but I’m not sure if the rainbow print is too loud for a purse I would carry every day.  It might be better suited to a summer purse, but I’m planning to start carrying this immediately.


Option 3:  The color on this photo is bad—the top is orange and cream, and the bottom is a pretty aqua and navy.  At first, this was my favorite.  I think it looks modern and cheerful and like it could be a boy’s diaper bag (though I’m not too concerned that it’s boyish since I’ll be carrying it after all).


Option 4:  This is also really starting to grow on me.  The more I look at it, the better I like it.  The bottom is a navy color, and the top fabric has navy accents, so coordinates well.  I also have plenty of the floral print, so I could also use it for the lining.

Any opinions?  I’d like to carry this potentially through all seasons as a diaper bag, but if I really like it well, I could always make another one with different colors for different seasons.  I think it’s close enough to spring now to not worry about it looking too summery.  Usually I’m pretty decisive when it comes to fabric, but this has me stumped.   Help!

Ruffled Sewing Case


I did a bit of sewing for myself (unusual lately) and made myself a medium-sized sewing case to hold my cross stitch projects.  I had been storing ongoing projects in a small open-top tote bag.  They weren’t fully in the bag, and the bag was open to dust and easily spilled if I’ve left it lying around.


I saw this ruffle clutch pattern on the Noodlehead blog.  It’s wallet sized, but I just loved the look of the little clutch, so I decided to enlarge the design so it would accommodate my cross stitch frame.  I also made my mom one for Christmas, and hers is quite large.  The frame she uses is 12”x27”, so I made the case big enough to easily slide the frame in.  My case is about 8”x10”, so it’s much more manageable.

One thing I love about this is that it’s easy to grab and go.  I often want to take hand-work projects with me on car trips or on weekend visits to family so I’ll have something to keep my hands busy, but the tote bag was not easily portable because I had to be so careful about its contents spilling or worry that my work was going to get dirty since the bag was open.  With this, even if things do spill out of their inner pockets, they’re still contained within the bag because of the zipper closure.


I pulled the fabric from my stash—the main print is a Michael Miller fabric with a Moda Christmas stripe from a line released last year.  It matched the turquoise color perfectly, and I really wish I had bought more since it was on the Christmas clearance but is definitely not seasonal on its own, and the color is so good that I’ve already used almost the whole yard this past year on random projects.  Inside I used some coordinating prints as well.


For the interior pockets, I made my own design instead of following the tutorial.  It has two layers of pockets—larger ones in the back for holding bags of floss or patterns and smaller ones in front of that for scissors, pens, and smaller items. 

To add something unique, I also did a little hand stitching on the outside band with black crochet thread.  I still think it needs something on the turquoise band to set things off a bit, but I can’t figure out what that might be—maybe a little fabric flower?  I’m still thinking it over.  However, since I’m already using it, I’m calling this finished!

Laura’s Birthday Present


This is a birthday gift I’ve been working on for a while.  My best friend, Laura’s birthday is on January 3rd, so if I don’t shop for or make her birthday presents at the same time as I do my Christmas shopping, it tends to sneak up on me.  A month or so ago, she sent me a link to some aprons on etsy ($40-$50 aprons, no less) that she thought were super cute.  I used them as a model and adapted a pattern I already had.  I added the contrasting waistband and long ties so the bow could be in the front, and then I patched two different parts of apron patterns together, so it’s a mish-mash of pieces.  However, I’m very happy with the result and may have to make one for myself sometime.  I love the twirly little skirt and the girly bow details.  I also added some gray ribbon and ric-rac for some extra detailing.


I chose this fabric because she loves yellow and gray and was really drawn to this fabric when we were shopping at Hobby Lobby over the summer.  I made the hot pads as kind of an afterthought.  I was making several other sets for Christmas gifts, and I thought they would make a perfect little add-on to a kitchen-themed gift.

Although I saw Laura over Christmas, I decided to mail the package instead of giving it to her in person.  Although I would have loved to see her open it, it’s always more fun to get a surprise in the mail.  So, I added this little birthday card to the box and shipped it off New Year’s Eve.  Hopefully it makes it in time for her birthday, but just in case it’s delayed, I’m going to post this a couple days later since she reads my blog.


Happy Birthday, Laura!!

New Year’s Sewing Resolutions


I’m not a big resolution-maker around the new year, but sometime in January, I do usually at least think about a few things I would like to change or accomplish in the coming year.  While I still have some thinking to do about my personal resolutions, I have thought of a few things I’d like to accomplish related to sewing and crafting.

1.  My biggest resolution this year is to open an etsy shop.  I signed up for one almost a year ago, but I have yet to list a single item.  My goal is to list at least a few things by March.  The scariest part for me is the photography.  I’m just not sure I can get an etsy-worthy picture of my items, but I just need to get over that and do it.  I already have several items that I’ve made specifically with etsy in mind.  I currently have quilts at two local shops, and I’ve only sold one in several months, so I’m hoping that etsy might reach a wider audience.  Either way, I won’t know until I try.  While I’m not looking to make a significant income, it would be nice to have a way to “get rid of” all of the things that I make.  I love quilting, and a person can only keep so many quilts in a house until it’s overrun with them.  I give them away as gifts, but I still end up with too many.  Even though I usually love what I make, I can only keep so many, and it would be nice to make a little money to fund my habit!

2.  Branch out with quilting.  Until this point, I’ve either quilted in straight lines or in a stipple pattern.  If I get really crazy, I add a little three petal flower into the meandering design.  Frankly, I’m pretty good at stippling.  It came easily to me, and I didn’t even have to really practice to achieve fairly even stitches (the above picture is my very first attempt at machine quilting).  However, it gets boring after a while, and I’m at the point now where I really need to challenge myself with more difficult designs to make my projects really look nice.  To this end, I’ve signed up for (and already watched!) Angela Walters’s class on quilting negative space.   There are several more challenging designs in there that I’m anxious to try.  I’m honestly quite scared that I won’t be very good at it.  I don’t have a stitch regulator, and it gets difficult to pay attention to a pattern as well as try to keep even stitches, but if I don’t practice, I’ll never be able to do it.  Angela has a long arm machine, and while she makes it look easy, I’m sure it’s not easy on that, either.  A domestic machine does present difficulties, but I plan to start on a small quilt and then go from there.

3.  Severely reduce the amount of fabric I buy.  I’m running out of shelf space, and we just installed all new bookshelves in my craft room a few months ago.  I have WAY too much fabric—more than I could use in a couple years at least.  I know it’s not practical to vow to not purchase any fabric at all in 2013 because sometimes I’ll need a solid, more white fabric if I run out, etc., and I also want the freedom to pick up something I love if/when I find it.  However, I’m going to make a conscious effort to not go into fabric shops unless I need something or have some birthday money or something like that.  I need to use what I have before I don’t love it anymore, and we all know that tastes change, and fabric goes out of style.

4.  Along a similar line, I’m vowing to stop hoarding my favorite fabrics.  Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve already started to do better in this area, but it hasn’t been without effort!  However, I’ve found that it’s been quite rewarding to use some of my favorite prints.  I love buying charm packs and layer cakes, but I also hoard those in anticipation of the “perfect” project.  In order to make this a measurable goal, I’m vowing to use at least three pre-cut packs that I currently have, and I will make at least two quilts using fat quarter bundles.  I’m also going to start spreading the wealth—i.e. using some of my favorites on swap and bee projects.  A lot of times my favorites are others’ favorites, too.  I know there will always be new fabric lines that I love, so there’s no reason to hoard the good stuff—it might not be so good in a few years anyway.  (Remember the orange and brown of the seventies/eighties?  Ugh.  Although I love gray and yellow right now, I think gray will be the new brown in another decade, so I might as well use it now while I like it!)

5.  Work more on my blog.  When I started the blog, I didn’t know if I would keep up with it or even enjoy it, but I’ve stayed consistent for over a year now (with a short break in there when the baby came), and I’m still enjoying writing and keeping a photo log of what I’ve made.  However, it would make things more interesting to me if I knew at least a few people were actually reading my posts.  So, I’m going to start linking up to other blogs, pinning my pictures, etc. to see what can happen by the end of the year.  I’m also going to try to learn more of the technical aspects behind the blog.  My best friend, Laura, is my technical guru, and she keeps everything running smoothly for me.  However, I’m at least going to get a few books from the library, do some reading, and try to learn a little more about what makes things work (or not work) around here.

6.  Finally, I’m promising to make more things for myself.  Most of what I make is for others—for gifts, to sell, for swaps/bees, etc.  Over the last year, I think all I kept for myself was a pair of pillowcases and a Christmas quilt.  That’s going to change this year.  I have a couple of quilts lined up for myself, and I’m going to make it a priority to finish them this year.  I’ll still sew for others, but I will also not feel guilty sewing a few things sewn just for me, just because I want to.

I will try to revisit this post bi-monthly to see how I’m doing at keeping my resolutions.

Fruity Potholders


I made these for Christmas presents for my mom and for my father-in-law’s girlfriend, but couldn’t post until now so I didn’t ruin the surprise.  They’re large potholders/hot pads.  I used Insul-bright and loosely followed this tutorial on moda bake shop, but I chose a different pattern for my top.  I love the idea of handmade potholders, but I’m not sure I’ll be using this method again.  It was a self-binding method, which was faster overall, but the finished look was definitely not as neat as hand-binding.  That might be my lack of skill with this method, though—the mitered corners just aren’t quite as sharp as they are when I hand-bind.

For one set of potholders, I used two pieces of batting and one layer of Insul-bright sandwiched in between.  This seemed a tad excessive, so for the other two sets I used one piece of batting and one layer of Insul-bright, and this seemed much better.  The hand quilting on top is just for looks since I knew I couldn’t get a needle easily through that many layers.  The fabric is a popular print by Alexander Henry, and I used it for the back as well.  I bought mine from Joann’s, and it’s just so bright and cheery.  I love the colors.


I made an extra set for myself while I was at it, but I think I’m going to end up giving them away as a kitchen-warming gift.  Some very good friends of ours have been remodeling their kitchen, and her potholders are very well used, and I’m sure she’d love these.  She is the BEST cook I know and also the one with the smallest kitchen (until now, that is!).