Friday, December 23, 2011

Handmade Holidays

I had grand plans for lots of handmade gifts this year (especially for my girls) but we moved on December 1st which forced me to reevaluate my list. I knew I still wanted to make gifts for the girls' teachers because they get a ton presents and I really wanted ours to be something different. I bought fabric from using a great coupon and used Jona's fabulous Shopgirl Apron pattern.

I've used her pattern so many times, I've lost count. It really is easy and I like that it allows for some variation with appliques or special touches. All three teachers loved their aprons and really seemed to appreciate the handmade nature of their gift which was nice.

My girl even got in on the handmade gift giving. She made a ruffled scarf for her BFF. As much as I like teaching her how to sew, the control freak in me can't stand to watch weave all over on her strip of fabric like a drunken seamstress.

I'll have to share pics soon of the new place we call home sweet home. We moved out to the country on three acres and so far, we're all loving it. Really, one of the best decisions we've ever made. Moving right in the middle of the holidays was super stressful but waking up to this view every morning totally makes it worth it.
Satellite reception is spotty and our internet connection is slower which means I've been spending more time sewing. Funny how that works. I've listed a few new dolls in my shop and am working on some chevron stripe bags (that will be really hard to list instead of keep).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Dolls

I know, I was supposed to have closed down my shop earlier this year but I miss making dolls and with Christmas rolling around soon, I've been getting a few requests from previous customers.

There are some absolutely adorable patterns out there that must be made. I've long been a fan of Bit of Whimsy Dolls. I purchased my first doll pattern from her several years ago and have purchased many more since. The patterns have detailed instructions and pictures and the shop owner has always answered my questions promptly. But best of all, her terms of service allow me use her pattern to make limited quantities of dolls to sell which I think is awesome. Crafters supporting other crafters is always nice.

My latest pattern purchase was the baby mermaid doll. Could she be any cuter?!

My girls LOVE this doll and are begging to keep her. I have to say, she's definitely one of my favorite dolls ever made. You can find her listed in my shop. Keep checking back as I'll be listing some others soon including owls, boy dolls, ruffle dress babies like I sold last year, and more baby mermaids!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Appliqued flowers in embroidery hoops.

Great alone or as part of a group.

I've been collecting hoops at thrift stores and garage sales and I think the vintage metal ones are my favorite.

Click the pics to go to the listings in my shop.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall Mantle

I really like most things about our tiny rental house but one feature I really wish it had is a mantle. I love seeing people's mantles all decked out for the holidays but I have to use the closest thing I have which is our china cabinet that sits in our living room.

While decorating for fall this year, I tossed out some old cheesy stuff that just isn't my style anymore. Think fake vines and leaves and a plush turkey. I used this mantle I pinned as my inspiration...

And here's my "mantle"...

I bought the owl at Marshall's for $5. The candle stick and glass jar were $6 and $3 at Marshall's. Some tiny pine cones from Walmart, mini pumpkins from Vons, a new wreath and the look was complete. I bought a plastic pumpkin at a yard sale for $.50 and glittered it myself.

I used to have a HUGE wedding picture hanging above the china cabinet. I decided to switch it out to give me space for more seasonal decorating.

The only thing purchased for my wreath was the burlap ribbon. The felt, feathers, and owl are from my craft stash. The wreath used to be covered in knotted strips of fabric and I just cut them all off so I could reuse it.

I wanted to do a bunting across the front of the china cabinet like in the inspiration picture. My plan was to use clothespins to display the girls' fall art work but the old artwork I had was either lost or torn by Matea and they haven't brought home anything new this year.

What fall projects have you pinned?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pinterest Dress

If you're on Pinterest, you've probably seen this dress making the pinning rounds. I thought it was adorable so after a string of super hot days here, I decided to finally make it. I know, it's crazy, some people actually make the things they pin on Pinterest. Truth be told, I've already made a bunch of stuff I've pinned so bonus points for me.

Here's my version...

I screwed up on my first go round. I didn't actually read the tutorial which would have been helpful. So instead of keeping the entire band of elastic on the outside of the dress, I sewed it into the seam which just turned out terrible. Lots of folding and bulk and just bad, bad, bad.

I used an old tank top from Old Navy and some jersey I got from Joann's at 40% off. I think the jersey ended up being a little too heavy. I like the idea of a knit on the bottom but what I bought is definitely heavier than tshirt weight and I think it's just a little too bulky once gathered.

My two big tips are to make sure the tank top fits fairly snuggly. Probably more fitted than you normally are comfortable with. And second, make sure the elastic band is the same size as your empire waist point. Too tight will be uncomfortable and ride up. I initially made mine too loose (along with a too-loose tank top) and that was a disaster too. It ended up looking like the dress was kind of hanging on my body instead of my body wearing it if that makes any sense. Overall, not bad for an $8 project.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pattern Review: Simplicity 2205 by Sweet Pea Totes

I hardly ever buy patterns. Partly because I'm cheap and there are so many great free tutorials online and partly because I'm super incompetent when it comes to patterns. But we had a new Joanns open in a neighboring town a few months ago and I picked up this pattern during one of their big pattern sales.
And here's my finished product.

Notice any difference between mine and the picture on the pattern? Yeah, one is upside down. And it's not mine. I think getting the final product photographed in the correct orientation is kind of key, don't you.

The pattern itself was fairly easy to follow but it does require very precise placement of certain pieces and transferring a lot of markings to your cut pieces. These are not my strong suits (I don't really think I have a sewing strength, to be honest). I think the pattern is probably a little too complex for a very beginner seamstress but would be fine for an intermediate seamstress. Honestly, the biggest issue for me was the picture on the pattern package. I kept thinking my clutch wasn't coming together correctly. I even ripped out the interior pocket at the last minute because I realized it would be upside down based on the orientation in the picture. And when it came to the final step of folding and top stitching closed, I just couldn't make it fold up, look like the picture, and be functional. Once I went to Sweet Pea's site and realized the picture was upside down, I was irritated with Simplicity but relieved that I wasn't completely incompetent.

I think the clutch is absolutely adorable and I love the pleated ruffle. I picked up some really cute floral trim at Joann's to use in place of the ruffle and I think lace or crochet trim would be really pretty too. I really like the final product but not for myself. I tend to carry a lot of junk, even when I'm traveling light and I think I need something with a boxed bottom. It took me about an hour and a half to complete the clutch including cutting fabric and stumbling over the upside down picture issue.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Bit of Sewing

My blog has been quiet but we've been busy with sewing and crafting around here. Bella got the cutest Hello Kitty Sewing machine from my mom for her birthday. We've worked a little on her biggest sewing issues - not pressing the foot pedal too hard and thus speeding through her sewing, and keeping your fingers out of the needle's path - and she seems to be doing really well. When I quiz her on the different parts of the machine, she knows all of the answers so I can tell she's really interested as opposed to me forcing it on her. Anyway, a few weeks ago I helped her make a ruffled scarf.

She was so excited about it and even wore it to a birthday party she went to later that day. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had actually bought the fabric to make a ruffled scarf for myself!

I'm also working on a new quilt I pinned on Pinterest.

I'm only using scraps and going for sort of a bold, primary-ish color scheme without it looking too rainbow. I started cutting scraps last weekend and already have all of my blocks made:)

And I've also been doing some sewing for my supposed-to-be-closed shop. A few trick or treat bags and some totes and purses here and there. I tried something new with this bag, gathering the bottom section so it has lots of texture and dimension. I'm very happy with the results.Link

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crafty Girls

Both of my girls love to do crafts, especially Bella. She can spend an entire Saturday working on an idea she's come up with and the bits and pieces she needs for her idea always end up covering our dining table. I wanted them to have their own crafty space but we definitely couldn't fit it in their room so I decided to give them their own set up in the garage.

I already had the desk on the right. It's actually an old sewing machine desk that I got at a yard sale several years ago. I found the desk on the left at a local thrift store for $20. That's more than I would usually pay for something like this but all of the drawers are in working condition and slide smoothly which is hard to find with something this old. The baskets and supply caddy are from the dollar tree so the whole makeover cost under $25.

The best part is that their new craft station is located right outside the door to the garage and my craft station is right inside the door to the garage so we're only a few feet away from each other when we're working.

And yes, that's now their laptop but trust me, it's no prize. It's been dropped a few times so the screen is damaged, we can't close it, the "u" key is missing and the cd drive doesn't work. Other than that, it's great!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trick or Treat

Is it too early to start thinking about Halloween? The planner in me says definitely not! Now that
Back to School is behind us, Halloween is the next big event on my mom calendar. We already picked up Matea's costume a few weekends ago. She saw a Rapunzel costume at Costco that she loved. It was the last one and under $20 so we grabbed it. Of course, now she wants to wear it every day until Halloween which is driving me more and more nuts every day.

I really like more creative and original costumes but force myself to let the girls decide. One of the greatest tragedies of my life was when my mom made me be a hula girl in 3rd grade instead of a punk rocker. She said every other girl was being a punk rocker and I needed to be something different. She scarred me for life...also, I'm sure she'll read this and call me. Ugh, the worst though was when I had to be a strawberry and my sister was a pumpkin. My mom found us green beanies for our stems and we had these huge felt bubble costumes. Looking back now, I appreciate the effort she put in to them and can admit they were cute, but as a first grader in the school Halloween parade, it was awful. I'm sure I'll find other ways to damage my children.

Enough with the therapy session...I'm offering a limited number of trick or treat bags again this year (maybe up to 4-6 in each fabric). I know I get a few emails from past customers every year who want a bag for their new baby that matches older siblings.

I have cute retro kitties, bats, and spider webs available and you can see all fabric choices in my shop.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lalalots of Fun!

Last Sunday, my baby turned five. My baby:(

Months before hand, she told me she wanted a Lalaloopsy party so I started shopping around for cheap ideas. And since Lalaloopsy is a relatively new thing, there aren't any themed decorations out there yet so we focused on cheap and easy ways to bring the Lalaloopsy theme to the party.

First cheap idea...evite! I think my mom hates that I don't do paper invites anymore but between the invitation cost and postage, that's at least $15 saved. And I think the likliehood of people rsvp'ing is much better with an evite and I'm a rule folower so I think rsvp's are important.

One tradition we do with our girls is the Birthday Fairy. On the night before their birthday, after they go to sleep, the birthday fairy decorates the livingroom with streamers and balloons and piles all of their presents up on the couch. Matea's new pink scooter is hidden under the quilt and you can see her pinata in the background. I found some pictures of really cool Lalaloopsy pinatas but realistically, I knew I didn't have the time or talent to make one. So we bought this pink and blue pinata for $15 from Walmart and covered it Lalaloopsy images I bought from an Etsy seller. And directly behind Tatey, you can see a Lalaloopsy mini garland I made. I used one of my scrapbook punches to punch several scalloped circles in bright colors, stitched them together, glued on more Lalaloopsy bottle cap images and then hung the garland on the food table.

Here's a super easy way to save money...get your cake from Costco! It's huge (and yummy) and only around $18. Since none of their designs fit our theme. I just had them write "Happy Birthday Matea" in the center and I spent $3 to buy some pre-colored tubes of frosting. I added polka dots and a bunch of Lalaloopsy figurines from the girls' collection. So cute and reasonably priced!

Family picture (minus Bella). We always forget to do this at the girls' parties so this year, I remembered to do it before the party. The blue hair? Yeah, that was an idea gone wrong. The night before the party, the girls and I decided that it would be fun to curl their hair in ringlets and spray it a bright color like Lalaloopsy's for the party. Because we live at the beach, there was a lot of moisture in the air that morning so while the kids helped us set up for the party, their cute ringlets quickly disappeared.

And the bounce house killed the Lalaloopsy blue hair. All that jumping made the color jump right off. Budget tip for a bounce house...get your father-in-law to buy one and borrow his:)

I'm not really into getting all of the themed plates, napkins, cups, etc. since they just end up in the trash but my mom and I found these polka dot cake plates at the Dollar Tree. They definitely weren't sturdy enough for lunch, but worked fine for snacks and cake. We got plates in bright blue polka dots and napkins in green polka dots. We also picked up a few plastic polka dot serving trays and bowls that went perfectly with our bright and fun theme but can also work with lots of other themes at future parties.

Super cute Lalaloopsy birthday dress that Grandma bought from this Etsy seller...Night Owl.

Cheap decor stuff...bright colored table cloths from The Dollar Tree, Lalaloopsy dolls from our collection, and a huge bunch of purple flowers from Costco for $8.99 which we split into three vases that we already owned. I also re-used my fabric Happy Birthday banner and spent 3 dollars on 6 paper lanterns from The Dollar Tree which we hung at the entrance to our yard. Each table also had a bright mini metal pail filled with candy. I found the pails at Target when Easter stuff was 75% off so I got them for $.50 each and have been using them for storage in my sewing area.

I think Tatey LOVED her party and I loved all of the bright colors. It was so fun to see our little front yard transformed into party central for a few hours.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A few new things...

I know I closed my Etsy shop in March, but I just listed this new bag...

After cleaning up my sewing area this week and seeing all of the great fabrics I have, I guess I got the itch to make something. I love the bag and didn't really have a plan for where it would end up but decided to list it in my (former) shop and see what happens.

I definitely don't want to open up a fully stocked shop again but it's nice to be able to use the stock of materials I have and make something that's my own design. I'm working almost 20 hours a week now sewing for someone else's business and while I'm very grateful for the work-at-home opportunity, I definitely miss being the one who pairs the fabrics and decides on the design.

I also recently made a new wreath for my front door. I totally copied the
idea from a friend but of course, hers is sophisticated and understated in black, white, and red and mine is loud and funky with lots of bright colors.

Our house is a very drab faded tan so I try to get the brightest colors I can with my flower pots, door mat, and now, my new wreath:)

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Just a quick note to say surgery went well and I was able to come home Friday night. The incisions are healing well (I think - I need to take off the tape today) and I'm not in too much pain except for the pain the air is causing. I guess they have to pump a bunch of air into your abdomen to move organs around and make enough space to work in and not only does some of that air get trapped in your body, it also irritates all of the nerves. I think I over did it a bit yesterday so I'm going to try and relax a little more today - that's what Father's Day is all about, right? Mama being waited on.

Wishing I would have gotten together an embroidery project to work on or something. I mean, I love tv and movies but even I can only log so many dozens of hours in a row.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Gallbladder removal is this Friday. Less than 48 hours away. I check in at 1:30 and hopefully, if all goes well, I'll be home to kiss my babies before they go to bed that night. I've been feeling on edge about it all week so I'm really ready to put it behind me and fast foward to feeling better.

In preparation for post-surgery life, I met with a nutritionist to set up a low fat/high fiber diet. Maybe the best $75 I've ever spent. She was so easy to talk to and really broke things down for me in a way I can understand. She kept everything really simple and easy to maintain and I walked away feeling really optimistic about a healthy future. We went through the typical meals and snacks I eat now and she just told me how to tweak them to increase the protein and fiber and reduce the fat. And we talked a lot about bloating and bowel movements. Did I mention her daughter is in Bella's class. So yeah, come August, I'll be standing outside the classroom at pickup time along side her with the knowledge that she knows all the graphic details of my bathroom habits. Good times.

On a happier note, at my pre-op appointment today, the nurse let me know it's ok to take anxiety medication on surgery day. In fact she encouraged me to take it and said, "Take one when you wake up and one when you leave for the hospital." Thank you Nurse Melissa, I wanted to hug you but successfully resisted the urge.

So, think good thoughts for me. I really, really want to come home Friday night versus having to stay in the hospital due to pain or nausea (or because it ends up having to be an open surgery). I'm high maintenance emotionally and want to be home in my own bed with my husband and babies nearby.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hello There!

It's been a loooong time since I've posted anything. I really haven't had anything creative or crafty to post. It's been sort of a rough three or four months here with health issues but after 6 doctor appointments, lab work, an ultrasound, endoscopy, ER trip, HIDA scan, and 5 prescriptions, I finally have an answer for why I've been feeling so crappy most of the abnormally functioning gallbladder. So, I see a surgeon next week and will have my gallbladder removed soon after that and will hopefully be feeling much better (and more creative and motivated!). Keep your fingers crossed for a safe and successful surgery and quick recovery.

On the crafty front, I finally finished my newest quilt! I had been struggling with what to do on the back and finally decided on white with one pieced strip across the bottom.
Yeah, that's not a white back, is it? I went to Joann's last week to buy the fabric but couldn't find the right white and realized I wasn't even sure of the correct name for the Kona Cotton white I used on the front. I knew the front wasn't white-white and it wasn't off-white either and nothing seemed to be the shade I was looking for.
The back isn't nearly as smooth as this picture makes it look. There are tons of creases and puckers but that's part of the charm (and proof!) of quilting it myself, right?
I came across this teal blue fabric that I've used in projects for my boss recently, saw it was 30% off and was sold!
I went back and forth between free motion quilting and stitching in the ditch but decided to stick with stippling because I really like the crinkly look it makes and I think stitching in the ditch just sounds stupid:)
The binding is made from various lime green fabrics I had in my stash.Align Center
I'm really happy with how it turned out and it was nice to be reminded of how good it feels to make something for myself. Next up is a new summer tote bag, new pillows for the living room and possibly some vintage sheet patchwork shams for the master bedroom. What are your summer sewing projects?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Handmade Gifts

As I've mentioned way too many times before, I really like giving handmade gifts but I've learned through lots of experience that not everyone appreciates getting them (which still baffles me). Yesterday was our good friend, Luke's 4th birthday party and he was definitely deserving of some one of a kind gifts. Lucky for me, he's not super into toys so I can still get away with giving clothes:)

First I made Luke and his new sister Grace matching towels... Why haven't I made these for my girls?! They're so cute and inexpensive, I have no reason not to spoil my girls with one of these. I used my Cricut to cut the letters which makes the whole project super easy.

Next I made him some preppy tie outfits. Luke's mom's taste is more preppy and classic than mine but I think these are a good balance between the two of us - not that it matters much what I like since he's not my kid, but if I'm making it, my rule is that I have to like it.
I finished my quilt top on Friday and love how it turned out. If I add one more row, it would fit on our bed. Hmmmm, decisions decisions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moving On

Do things look a little different around here? I officially closed my shop today and shipped my last package. I removed my business-y banner from my blog and Etsy and also got rid of a few business-y things on the side bar. I also need to work on updating my faves that are listed in the side bar because I don't think I've done that in a few years!

I spent several hours working on my quilt over the weekend and I have three rows finished. Only two more to go!
The blocks are large - about 16" - so they come together quickly and all of the progress is great for keeping me motivated.

Now I need to start thinking about the back and binding. I love the look of a pieced back but I'm fairly confident I can't get everything lined up correctly and my lines between pieces won't be straight. Does that make sense? I'm considering an all white back with some kind of patterned applique or maybe a big cluster of rolled roses. Any ideas?

I'm dreading the step I think everyone hates...pinning together all of the layers. The hardest part for me is that we live in a tiny old house with small, chopped up rooms so there isn't really a spot for me to lay everything out. I tried using basting adhesive with my last quilt and that was a DISASTER! I ended up in tears with quilt pieces stuck to my feet!