Tuesday, May 31, 2011


And by that I mean, cutting lots and lots and lots of strips of fabric for my very first quilt.

I'm making it over the course of a 6-week modern quilting class with 3 other ladies and our lovely teacher Heather. (she took this picture.) I was right to think that doing my first quilt this way would keep me motivated, because if I had cut all of these strips alone in my sewing cave I would have lost steam very quickly. Instead I got to do it while gossiping about OB-Ggyns and telling funny breast feeding tales. (I know, totally stereotypical sewing circle.)

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do my quilt in all solids. Then I decided it would be for Hendrix's new twin bed, which currently has no blanket on it. So the palette is pretty bright, but it will be perfect for the kids' room.

fenced in quilt, coming along
Here is an example I found of the "Fenced In" pattern we are using. This beautiful Innocent Crush version is still in progress, but you get the idea. The pattern comes from this book

I'm really so excited to have a big ol' finished quilt by the end of June! In a couple weeks, I'll give you a sneak peek of my blocks. Or maybe I'll just wait until the big reveal...we'll see  :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Something mine, for me, myself-selfish-self

Wow, that makes me sound like Veruca Salt or something, doesn't it?

Whatever, sometimes you just have to ignore the pleas of your naked children and make something superfluous for yourself, right? You deserve it!

Nah, actually, I just thought this looked really fun to make and I was really sick of my old one. 

Here is the free pattern. It is pretty cool to take a pattern on some fabric and turn it into a completely different one just by using patchwork. And it was nice to use this yellow striped fabric I've had lying around forever.  Yeesh, I have a lot of fabric I need to use up... yet I still can't seem to stop buying it. It's a disease or something.

Speaking of my disease, it's only going to get worse, as I'm beginning a part-time job at Sewn Studio this week. Hopefully I'll get to take home some of my paycheck. I'm really super excited to be working there though. It's pretty much the perfect place to spend time in and actually get paid for it.


Speaking of naked kids and trying not to be selfish, one more item to share this morning. I'm sure you've all seen plenty of pictures of Joplin and the devastation left from last week's tornado. A friend of mine from college who lives there now had a very cool idea for helping families in need.

Here's what you do. Like this facebook page, then follow their link to buy diapers on Amazon and send them to their church there, where they will be distributed to babies. Pretty good right? Go ahead and share it with all your fb friends too. How cool would it be if they got diapers from all 50 states, and our Canadian friends too.

If you want to bypass facebook, just buy some diapers here, and get them shipped to:

Carterville Christian Church 
20123 Gravel Rd 
Joplin MO 64801.

Such an easy simple thing that will make someone's hard life a lot easier right now.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Refashion: How to add a waistband to a top.

So I'm not one of those people that fits into their old jeans 2 weeks after having their baby. The truth is, I'm a normal person who has a pretty good second-baby-jelly-belly going on, and I will struggle this whole summer in half-assed attempts to lose it. (And if you are one of those other kinds of people, the rest of us hate you. Just sayin.) Right now, I'm putting more energy into dressing to hide the belly. 

I finally went shopping last week since I had absolutely no clothing that fit me and was suitable to leave the house in. Time to stop dressing in pajamas. I went to Nordstrom Rack (awesome) and bought several loose fitting racer-backs. This is because I don't wear nursing bras, which suck, I just wear sports bras. Maybe you didn't care to know that, but it's my nursing tip of the day I guess. 

For some reason, I bought this one without trying it on and without noticing that it was really more dress-length than top-length. It was like something that would look cute over leggings on a 12 year old. Hm, no. Rather than take it back, I took the risk and fixed it myself by adding a low fitted waistband. Now it says, "Yes there is a blouse-y pooch here, but it's totally on purpose. Duh." 

The process was pretty simple:

First I tried it on and figured out where I wanted the finished product to end on me. (Remember to cut that top layer lower than you think since it will blouse up some.) I stuck a pin there and then cut it all the way around, using a stripe as my guide. Then I cut again a few inched up from the bottom hem. This will be the waistband and it's already hemmed for you. 

The middle strip that's leftover you can discard or use for something else, like an embellishment around the top. I'm not huge into embellishments though. (What? Can you even be a craft blogger without sticking fabric flowers on everything?)

Next I put that bottom strip back on around my hips and pinned it up to be more fitted. Take it off and turn it inside out, draw a line where you want the fabric taken in to, and sew along that line. I made sure to keep the stripes and hem lined up. Then cut off that excess and finish the seam. 

Here is what the waistband looks like right side out at this point. 

Next, I went back to the top piece and sewed a gathering stitch all around the bottom. If you don't know how to do this, turn your stitch length up to the longest on your machine, and turn your tension up. Also, make sure to leave long thread tails on either side of this so that you can adjust how gathered it is. You will likely have to "un-gather" some. 

Turn the waistband tube inside out again and slip it over the bottom of the main piece. (See how the hem is at the top? See how I have blue toenails right now?) Now you will have to un-gather evenly to match up these two pieces and pin together all the way around.

It is helpful to use a lot of pins for this one, maybe even more than this.

Now sew, just making sure you use a big enough seam allowance to catch that gathering stitch inside. You want the needle to be to the left of the gathering stitch. Once you're done, pull out that gathering stitch and zigzag or serge the seam. Boo-yah.

So I've basically just undone all the damage the shirt does by having horizontal stripes to begin with... whatever, I like it. Time to eat ice cream for lunch :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Newborn Pics

My husband took these beautiful pictures of Elsie when she was 5 days old. Now she is a month old and like 3 times this size... (she says in wistful mommy voice.) Ok, not really, but she is getting pretty big. I should probably start taking her picture every month next to the same potato for comparison... or something cuter.

Thanks for indulging me :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tutorial: Spool Stacker Toy

If you are here visiting from The Long Thread, good morning and welcome! (I guess the rest of you are welcome too.)

The Long Thread was one of the very first sewing and craft sites I ever found and checked in on regularly. Ellen is a sewing guru, and her site is fun and stylish. So when she asked me to participate in her HandMayde series this month, I was pretty excited.

This week is all about kids. Today I'm sharing a project that your kid can help you make, and then play with long after. And you get to repurpose all those empty thread spools.

If you are like me, you hang on to all your empty spools and have no idea why. Mine have been collecting in a little pile by my sewing machine for some time. Not you? If you are not that neurotic, then start hoarding now!

And if your two-year-old is like mine, he loves his old wooden (or plastic) ring stacker toy, but it's become way too easy for him to do. This version is more of a challenge to toddler coordination, and it adds color-sorting to the fun.

So let's get started.

You will need:
1. Masking tape
2. Contact paper
3. Kid paints (4 colors) and paintbrush or sponge
4. Chunk of wood at least a couple inches deep. Mine is 2 x 10 inches. You can use what you find or buy a piece from the craft store.
5. Four wooden dowels small enough to fit thru your spools. I bought this six pack of white ones at Michael's for a couple bucks.
6. A drill
7. Plastic thread spools, I used 12.

Paint: This is the fun part your kid gets to help with. To prep, cut 4 pieces of contact paper about the size of notebook paper. On the side that is the top of the actual contact paper, not the backing, stick down 3-4 long strips of masking tape. We are using the contact paper for this because it will be easy to get the masking tape off after it's painted. Tape the sheet down to your work surface (I use an old cutting mat for messy things like this.) and let your kid go to town painting, one color on each sheet.

Help them to cover the tape strips pretty well. Hendrix only made it through the first three colors before losing interest, so I finished up the yellow for him. He hates yellow anyway, it's the only color he refuses to learn! (I originally did 5 strips of tape, but discovered you really don't need that much.)

While he was painting those, I was also painting the dowels in each of the colors we used. 

Drill: Next put four evenly spaced holes in your wood block about halfway through. (Who am I kidding, I had my husband do this.) Make sure your holes aren't too big to hold the dowels snugly. You don't have to be too precise about the placement, just be sure they are far enough apart that a spool could be on each one and have space in between.

Decorate spools: Take all your lovely naked spools and remove all the stickers off of the ends.

Make sure all the paint is completely dry and then you can peel up the masking tape easily, and it will still be very sticky.

Wrap up the spools, making 3 in each color. I think the texture of the painted tape is pretty cool looking. 

How fun do all these colorful new stacking blocks look?

Stick your dowels in the wood and the new toy is ready for stacking and sorting. Hendrix has loved playing with his all week. (Of course, I supervise so that he doesn't have any bright ideas like using it as a landing pad while jumping off the couch.) He's always very proud after he successfully gets all the spools on.

I've also been thinking of some fun ways you could use tape painted this way- pretty packaging and gift wrapping, kid-art displays, rotating photo galleries, more colorful memos and reminder notes... I'm sure you could think of lots more. It's a good alternative to shelling out the cash for specialty tapes. 

Thanks for reading everyone, and have fun with your repurposed spools and pretty painted tape!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On the Interwebs

This site is funny. Real funny.

I'm hiring artist Sarah Applebaum to redecorate my entire home.

There is an amazing new mural in downtown Cincy.

I really want to make these pintuck pillows. Tutorial. 

Keep snail mail alive. Such a fun idea.

Amy Butler lives in my absolute dream house. 

You get your pretty links a little early this week because I have a fun tutorial for a crafty kids toy to share with you in the morning. And because I can't be tethered by such rules and schedules- like you even noticed I usually do it on Friday :)

See you in the morning. Be there. Er, here. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Eric Carle style cards

I'm a bit late in posting our little Mother's Day project for the grandmothers, but it's something you could fit to any occasion or just a fun art project.

Everyone loves Eric Carle books. He does his illustrations by making collages of paper painted in different colors and textures.

So first we did some painting. (Actually the Mr. did this with Hendrix while he let me sleep in, his own idea. Yeah, he's pretty good.)

Then I cut out circles and various flower shapes from his paintings. The textures look so cool on these. 

Then he picked the flowers he wanted to put on each card and painted glue on the back with a paint brush.

I drew the stems and added the ribbon and a cute picture. I think they were a hit!

Has anyone ever been to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art? I would looooooove to go. We are going to Boston in July, but I don't know if I could convince the rest of my family to make the 2 hour drive. If you've been, would it be worth it?