I hope you and your families had a wonderful Christmas! We certainly did…we had all the family here and had a wonderful couple of days of food, presents, and time spent with families. And only one trip to the emergency room (Esther got her eye stabbed by her sister’s fondue fork…just a scratch and she is totally fine…could have been so much worse).
I did hardly any sewing for Christmas this year. The one thing that I completed was a stocking for little Miriam.
I didn’t even make Christmas pajamas this year. I had the fabric all purchased was totally going to do it, but then the weather changed to be way colder and the short sleeve shirts and pants were no longer going to be acceptable. So, off to the mall we went to purchase matching fleece jammies…2 days before Christmas. It was a miracle we found some, but we did!
So, now that it is the new year folks are doing round up posts or posting lists what their plans for the next year are. I thought I would take this opportunity to do a round up of several little things I sewed last year, but never actually posted about.
I had several friends welcome new babies last year so I whipped up some cute little baby gifts.
The first was for my fellow Doctor Who watching friend. She recently moved away, but she would come over and watch new episodes with me while Christian was working. So, a gift for her newest little boy was a no brainer. I made a couple Doctor Who themed shirts. For one I bought a TARDIS embroidery design and stitched it onto a onesie with my favorite Doctor’s (Ten) favorite saying…Allons-y! And then I used a freezer paper stencil and fabric paint to make another shirt declaring that “Bowties are cool” as per Eleven.
The other two ladies that I made something for were both having their first little girls after each having two boys, so I felt something cute and girly was definitely in order. My favorite simple dress to make right now is the Geranium Dress from Made by Rae. It has the cutest silhouette and is very simple to whip up quickly. I made one alteration that made the sewing time even quicker. I used the pleated skirt pattern piece, but instead of pleating I simply gathered where the pleats would be. So, I still get the streamlined sides of the dress, but it still has the cute girly-ness of the gathers. I have to say, this is probably my favorite way to make this dress.
For the yellow one I also used some piping along the bottom of the bodice just to give it a touch more visual interest. I also used a snap for the closure instead of buttons because this dress was for a smaller baby and I just hate having to fasten real buttons on the backs of tiny babies. It is just so difficult until they can sit up better on their own.
For the pink one, I decided to make a tunic and include some bloomer shorts. I actually made the tunic out of two fat quarters. I had *just* enough to squeeze out a 12-18 month size. For the shorts I just used one of my self drafted baby bloomer/shorts patterns. This friend also uses cloth diapers and I knew she would need the extra room for all the fluff.
I, of course, also had a baby this year and I wanted to make the girls something special for their big sister presents. They love being mamas to their dolls and animals and as Miriam’s arrival was approaching they were ramping up their pretend play in this area. So, it seemed like a good time to make them their own little carriers. Dinah refused to be photographed this day, so I just have Esther here. But Dinah’s is identical, except hers has a D on the pocket. I used the pattern from Oliver + S’s Little Things to Sew and they really came together so nicely. I always love their patterns, they are so well written and I usually learn a new trick or two. This book is so great and has lots of sweet projects to try. The one change I made to their carriers is that instead of fitting the carrier on them and then placing the velcro, I simply placed a very long strip of velcro on the straps so the carrier can be adjustable. Now they can wear their babies for way longer!
Later on I sewed up one more quick Geranium…this time for my own Miriam. She was “black and white Dorothy” riding on her tornado (stroller) for Halloween. I used a simple black and white gingham and left it unadorned for Halloween. After the trick-or-treating I spiced it up a bit by adding lime green buttons on the back and a cute little lime green and white striped bow on the front. Too cute!
The final project I’m sharing today was I think one of my very few pieces of “selfish sewing” from last year. With the baby and diaper carrying days approaching I knew I wanted to have a larger wallet instead of a purse. Basically something that could hold everything of importance, including my phone, and would become a clutch when I didn’t have cause to carry the larger diaper bag. I scoured the interwebs looking for just the right thing and found the Necessary Clutch Wallet Pattern at Emmaline. It is such a great pattern and for as fussy as it looks, really didn’t take that long to make. For this I followed the pattern straight up, but I think for future wallets I would add a panel of the stiff interfacing to the front and the back of the wallet as well, just to help it be a bit more rigid. I did make this with Joann’s home dec weight fabric and I know that helped with stiffness as well. I just love this wallet. It is light weight, but has slots for all my cards and several sections. There is a zippered center pocket as well as two flat pockets behind each card holder.
Okay, I think that is everything. The only thing remaining is the baby wrap that I made out of gauze and a square of quilting cotton the day before the baby came because I needed something to do. However, it is really hard to get a picture of oneself wearing a baby in a wrap, so you will have to content yourself with this picture of Dinah trying it out for me.
I hope your New Year is starting out bright! I am looking forward to what is in store for us too! Coming up…Project Run & Play starts in two weeks! Eek! Get sewing!
Last year three of my very good friends from college had babies. Since I began sewing I have tried to make a quilt for each new baby added to our group. So, I had a busy quilting year!
The fun part of making baby quilts for my friends is hunting down the perfect fabric for them. I like to use pre-cut charm packs (5 inch squares) for my quilts. They are an inexpensive way to get a sampling of designer fabrics. It is perfect for me because the fabrics are already coordinating and they are already cut into quilt sized squares. I also usually make sure the quilt is small enough that I only need purchase one yard of backing fabric and then I choose one of the prints in the charm pack.
I have used quilt patterns/tutorials before…notably the Charm Squares Baby Quilt from Oh, Fransson! But recently I have just been browsing the internet for quilt looks that I like and designing my own. That process is more time consuming, but worth it.
Alright, I don’t pretend to be a great quilter. I have gotten better with each quilt and I have learned a few tricks that make my life easier. Also, I get really bored with quilting…so I don’t do anything bigger than these baby quilts.
Okay, so here are the quilts I made last year…
First up is Waverly’s…
It is made with a random charm pack of Amy Butler fabrics. Waverly’s mom has a taste for bold colors and prints so I knew Amy Butler would be a great choice for her little girl.
I always hand embroidery the baby’s name (if known) onto the quilt. It is part of what makes each quilt unique and something special for each baby.
Up next is Ella Katherine’s…
Ella Katherine already has a big brother and their mom was planning on a shared room. She picked out the Fly A Kite line from Riley Blake for me to make some Pennant Banners with their names for their room. I just loved this sweet fabric so much that I went ahead and used it for her quilt too.
One of the tricks I’ve picked up is a cheater binding method. I use this tutorial from Made by Rae and it has revolutionalized quilting for me. Typically, the part of quilting I hate the most is the binding part, but this cheater method looks great and I get perfect corners every time with no fighting.
Because I did a square quilt I needed to piece the back. In order to “hide” the seam I chose to add a little surprise of a few blocks on the back of the quilt too.
And finally, Emily’s…
For Emily’s quilt I used Willow also by Riley Blake (I have found I am just really drawn to Riley Blake fabrics, especially for these quilts…Dinah’s and my nephew’s will both be made with Riley Blake fabrics.)
I really loved how muted and sweet these colors are and I have been digging gray with yellow and pink lately. As Mugatu would say, “Gray is so hot right now.” (Also, ignore that random, giant blade of grass in the following picture…I don’t know how that guy snuck in there…but he will not be tamed!
I do have more quilts out there…older ones (pre-blog) that don’t have very good pictures. I will try to dig out the photos and see if I can clean them up and make them more presentable. Those older quilts/blankets are cute, but you will definitely see how I’ve gotten better over time. I’ll share those soon.
But next time I will be telling you all about Esther’s birthday party we had over the weekend. It was so fun and I can’t wait to
show off share all the details!
Time to get back to my gift giving series from Christmas…before I have to start new projects!
My mother-in-law loves her doggies about as much as her children. She has three little Japanese Chins. She is very active in Chin Rescue and has adopted and fostered several doggies through their organization.
While it is a great thing to adopt via a pet rescue program, it is not without some drawbacks. In her case her pups have several health problems. Poor doggies.
When she comes to stay she usually brings all their meds in an overflowing Gladware dish in a plastic grocery bag. I thought I could do better than that.
I used this pattern, but I enlarged it a bit so one of those Gladware containers could fit down inside it.
It has an extended lining with a drawstring closure so it can hold tons of doggie medicines and supplies.
I chose this cute paw print fabric (with help from my mom) so it would “look the part” but not be an obvious and cheesy dog print.
Yay! for cute and useful presents! I hope she gets lots of use out of it!
Time for another gift giving recap!
Shockingly this gift idea came from another Pinterest inspiration. I saw these sweet little hoops and just loved the idea of them. I filed them away, but didn’t know what I would use the idea for yet.
And then when I was planning my Christmas gifts I remembered my mom’s “bride room.” One of the guest rooms at my mom’s house is decorated with her daughters’ bridal portraits as well as pictures from her own sisters’ weddings. Perfect!
I decided to do a hoop for my mom and dad, my sister and her husband and for Christian and I. I wanted to include our wedding dates and I thought it would be nice to also embroider flowers from each of our weddings. In order to give the hoops some dimension and texture I wanted to experiment with some 3D elements for the flowers. After playing with buttons and felt I looked into ribbon embroidery. This is mostly done the same way as hand embroidery so it didn’t seem too daunting. So I ordered the supplies and got to work.
I have to say I really like how they all turned out. I am sure with time my ribbon embroidery will improve, but I feel like I did pretty well for being so new to the medium. Anyway, here are some close ups of each hoop…
My mom and dad had a true seventies wedding…peasant-style dresses, blue tuxes with pastel colored ruffled shirts, feathered hair and a fro or two. She also used her favorite flower, the daisy. Her sisters were her bridesmaids and they wore wreaths of daisies in their hair. I replicated those wreaths on their hoop.
I stitched the stems and lettering with a backstitch and used the “lazy daisy” for the leaves and the petals. The stems and leaves are with normal embroidery floss, but I used 4mm silk ribbon for the flowers.
My sister and her husband had a sweet springtime wedding. I can’t believe that was almost two years ago now! She used a variety of spring blooms, but the most striking were the blue irises.
The ribbon embroidery was perfect for creating the irises. The fullness of the ribbon compared to embroidery floss really helps to create a nice three dimensional flower. I used 4mm ribbon for the actual flowers and used 7mm ribbon to create the leaves.
I got married at Christmas-time in a church with burgundy carpet. So I stuck with simple greens and whites. My bridesmaids carried just a few white roses still on their stems and that is what I choose to put on our hoop.
I made the roses out of 3/4 inch satin ribbon. I looked all over the interwebs to find a good tutorial for a rose that I liked and I settled on something similar to this tutorial. I had originally planned on using felt to make my roses and I even had it stitched onto the hoop and I realized that felt wasn’t right. These satin roses have more of the feel I was going for with the hoops.
I really like the way the hoops all look together. The idea came together very nicely and I hope they look good in mom’s “bride room.”
This will be the first in a series of posts this month detailing all the gift sewing I did towards the end of last year. For the past few years I have given mostly handmade gifts. It is fun to do, but VERY exhausting. I am thinking that this will be my last all handmade Christmas. I mean, if I find a project that is absolutely perfect for someone then I will gladly create it for them. I have just decided to not kill my self every fall from now on. We’ll see if this resolution holds true.
The first gift I want to share is the bag I made for my sister’s birthday. This has become somewhat of a tradition, at least for the past three years. Here are the first two bags I made for her.
For this year’s bag, I settled fairly early on making the Phoebe Bag from artsy-crafty babe.
I really liked the shape and it looked like a great pattern to showcase a great fabric. The next step was to find this great fabric. I looked and looked and finally settled on the Amy Butler Lotus collection in sky blue and slate.
Now for construction: I wanted to do a simple pattern review for those of you who might be interested in sewing this bag and want to know more about sewing it.
First, the pattern gives some helpful information at the start including how much fabric and other materials are required. I found those estimates to be pretty much right on. It also notes seam allowances, how many of each piece to cut out, and gives tips on how to make a more rigid bag if desired.
The markings for joining the pattern pieces were very well marked and easy to match up. She even includes a scale on the pattern pages to help you print the pages the correct size. That was a nice bonus and I have not seen that on any of the other free pattern downloads I have used.
I decided to make two pockets, instead of the specified one. First I did the standard patch pocket called for in the pattern. This was simple enough and I had made several of these before. I sometimes measure the object (phone, etc.) that I might put in the pocket and custom fit it, but because this was a gift I just made it the standard size outlined in the pattern.
In order to stretch my skills I also decided to insert at zippered pocket. I followed this tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew! and found it was very easy to do. I feel like a zippered pocket makes it more like a “real” purse.
The darts are marked clearly on the pattern piece and they were easy enough to transfer. Through my own distraction I accidentally made the markings on the right side of the fabric and had to redo all my marks (thanks, Felicity). You’ll want to make the markings on the wrong side of the fabric so you can match the lines easily and then sew along the line to be sure you have a straight dart. I really like the shape the darts give the bag. Most of the bags I have made have had squared corners and this was a nice change.
I like the way the strap is designed to have the lining fabric on the inside. It gives the bag nice contrast. The instructions were easy to follow and even had a little diagram to help make it clear in case you got confused.
The instructions for where to install the magnetic snaps were very clear as well as the instructions for the flap and its placement.
The instructions for pinning the bag and finishing made sense to me, but I have made several bags previously. I think the instructions are clear enough for a beginner, but, as a visual learner, I would have liked a couple of pictures of the process if I was new to it. (Grammar police: please forgive that last sentence if it is punctuated wrong.)
Overall, I really like the pattern. It makes a very nicely shaped and sized bag (around 14″ x 12″). One of the main reasons I chose it (to showcase a nice fabric) was well validated. The blossom fabric looks great here.
For an intermediate sewer, like myself, the pattern instructions were good and I always understood what she intended. As I said before, if I were a beginner I probably would have liked a few more pictures and/or diagrams to help me visualize better, but the written instructions are very clear.
One other thing that I like about this bag is that it would do well sized up or down. The shape would make a cute smaller handbag or a larger cross-body bag. (Similar to the Margaret Bag above.) In any case, I would definitely sew this bag again for either myself or as a gift.
And a couple notes: sorry about the crayon-colored table. I don’t have many clean photographing surfaces! And do you like my new logo?