In and Out

I have to admit that I’m enjoying this embroidery thing. It’s pretty relaxing and definitely more portable than sewing, even if I’m never quite sure that I know what I’m doing.

I finished up this project last night. I embroidered a geisha on a pair of my jeans, on the lower right leg near the hem. Not quite how I’d hoped it would turn out but it’s growing on me.

The design came from Urban Threads. I also purchased a sister design, a geisha standing in front of a tree with even more flowers. The boys helped me pick which one to use here. I’m glad I did this one. The other has more stuff at and above the geisha’s head. This one was challenging enough, since I left the jeans intact. At one point, I had both hands shoved into the leg from different directions to try to work the needle!

Now if I can just work up the nerve to wear these out of the house. After the temperature drops about 15 degrees, of course.

This is Post

Whooooooooooo! And the crowd goes wild!

OK, well maybe not “wild.” How about “smiles enthusiastically”? LOL!

I’d really expected to do this post earlier in the week but life got away from me. Again.  I swear, this summer is just flying by — and dragging me behind it. I have not done any sewing in about a week, which is a nice break; I miss sewing and am ready to get back to it

In the interim, I have been working on a couple of other projects. One is about half done and requires yet another trip to The Home Depot. I swear, I’d be done with it already if I could ever manage to have everything I need with me when I go. Maybe I’ll dash over after lunch and get the last of the hardware so I can show off a finished project after the weekend.

While that one’s still in lumber limbo, I have managed to get another non-sewing project knocked out: the yummy ice cream sundae pincushion shown here. I’ve had this one in my head for months, ever since I did my first felting projects earlier this year. The only hold up was finding some white/cream wool roving — which I found on clearance at Michael’s this week. Score! The first cherry was about three times the size of this one. Oops! Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to make them and the replacement was ready and attached in no time. I used some of the Clover felting needles for the “chocolate syrup” and also to attach the cherry to the top. The sundae glass came from Goodwill. Fifteen cents!

I really have to thank everyone who suggested crafts for my blogiversary Try It! challenge. It gave me the nudge to try some new things (like felting), as well as some things I have not done for years. I’m slowly but surely working my way through the list and continuing to send out goodies to the winners from the related giveaway.

That doesn’t mean I can’t do another giveaway, though! It’s probably one of my favorite things about blogging. I’ve been lucky enough to win a few, so I think it’s especially important to give back to the blogging community with some goodies of my own. Originally, I was going to give away two things. But I like matchy numbers and had some things in mind, so this time around there are THREE prizes to win. Maybe that’s deserving of a cheer! hee!

First up is … a swag bag from the recent Indie Craft Experience held here in Atlanta. (Oh, hey look – it’s my stairs again!) The bag is printed with the ICE logo and event info, as well as that of major sponsor Craft magazine. (And we all love Craft, don’t we?) Inside are all the wonderful things that came with the bag. Pins and business cards and sample-y things and pens. Plus, I’ve added a couple of small things I picked up from vendors and sponsors. It’s kind of like being there without having to suffer through the near-record-setting high temps that day. (For real — I thought I was going to melt! I felt awful for the folks who’d come in from up north and weren’t acclimated. It was rough for me, and I live here.) And the tote is so handy; you’ll want to carry it everywhere. Or maybe just use it as a reusable shopping tote. A huge, huge thanks to my wonderful husband, who picked up this bag so I would have one to giveaway. xoxo!

One lucky winner will be receiving this crafty prize: A copy of Ottobre and two Aunt Martha’s embroidery/paint patterns. The unused Ottobre is the Fall 2006 issue, and full of great clothes you can sew for the little one in your life. If you haven’t sewn from Ottobre before, you are in for a treat! The patterns do have to be traced (just like Farbenmix, Burda and Kwik Sew) but they yield some of the most fun clothes I’ve ever made. Very stylish and different.

I’m totally digging the Aunt Martha’s patterns. I’d say they are retro, but I’m pretty sure these are the same designs the company has been putting out for the past 70 years. I actually remember my mother having some of these same patterns. Isn’t that cool? These patterns feature a package of floral motifs plus a separate package of Kitten Chores. No kidding — they were tough to decide to give away, but I hope the recipient will :heart: them as much as I do.

Prize No. 3 is a bit more personal, because *you* get to work with me on a little sewing project. I will work with the winner to draft and sew a skirt especially for her, similar to the one shown here. It can be a little shorter or longer; a bit more straight or a more pronounced A-line. Add some trim or maybe a contrasting band. The skirt has an elastic waist, so it’s nice and comfortable for you to wear. This one will take a little more time to send out, so just be aware of that going into it. (After all, I’m going to draft a pattern based on *your* measurements.)

Now, in order to win one of these fab-u-lous prizes, you will need to leave a comment on this post.

But wait just one tiny second.

Not only will you need to leave a comment, but you’ll need to do two things in that comment:

1. Tell me which prize you’d like. After all, it’s no fun to win a prize if you really don’t like it.

2. Write “Mary is the coolest crafty chick ever!” Just kidding. (Or am I?) No, I don’t want you to write that. But I do want you to submit a question for me that I can use on my “About Me” page.

Do this by Wednesday, June 23. On Thursday, June 24, I will separate all the comments by prizes and draw names from each of those three hats. Sound good? Good luck!

Going Yo-yo Crazy

Last night I finally broke out the Clover yo-yo maker I’ve had for the better part of a year. (Yes, I tend to buy things and not get around to using them. It’s a bad habit and I need to break it.)

Anyway, I have an enormous bag of scraps and decided to play around with the yo-yo maker to see if I liked the results. LOVE! I think I could spend hours stitching up these little cuties. Aren’t they adorable?

Of course, I have no idea what I’m going to do with them. Right now I’m just sticking them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag until I get a few more, since there aren’t enough to really think about using. Well, except maybe as embellishments on purses or clothes. (Which gives me an idea for a half-finished outfit for Miss L. But I digress.)

I’ve been cruising Flickr for some inspiration and haven’t been disappointed. I love how these are displayed. This is gorgeous, but I don’t know if I have the patience for it (much less a bigger one). I’m totally going to use these as inspiration. I think the yo-yos on this purse are a nice touch. I’ve seen garlands, too, but I think I’d rather do something bigger with them. What have you sen done with yo-yos that’s cool or different?

Flowers for Teacher

I made this paper flower bouquet for Miss L’s teacher, as an end-of-the-year “thank you” gift. I had so much fun with it — and it was so well received by her teachers and the other parents at school — that I knew it deserved a tutorial. This one features fabric from Sandi Henderson’s Ginger Blossom line for Michael Miller. I decoupaged the fabric on the pot using Mod Podge. The rim of the pot was painted with a dark brown paint, which I sponged off a bit to give it a distressed leather look.

To make your own pretty flower pot bouquet, you will need:

  • Flower template
  • Construction paper or cardstock
  • Scrapbook paper (optional)
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Thin wooden dowels
  • Papier mache flower pot
  • Green paint and brush or sponge brush
  • Pot-decorating items (paint, fabric, paper, etc.)
  • Tissue paper or paper grass
  • Tulle or ribbon
  • Circle cutting tool or punch, or a circular object you can trace
  • Picture of each child, cropped to approximate circle size (2 inches is recommended)
  • Adhesive (glue dots, Xyron, glue stick, etc.)
  • 5×5-inch cube of dry floral foam
  • Paper shredder

And here’s my first video tutorial (please be kind!):

Little Sunshine

I have taken a little break from sewing for others to knock out a few outfits for Miss L. Our weather rather abruptly changed from winter (fall) to spring-verging-on-summer and I had an epiphany:

The dressmaker’s daughter had no clothes.

Maybe it’s a slight exaggeration, but not far off from the truth. And so I’ve been toiling away, making sure my poor daughter did not have to venture out of the house in long sleeves and too-short jeans as the temperatures climbed closer to 80 degrees.

This darling little outfit was pulled together while L was at school on Tuesday. Yep, that fast. It helped that I used white thread on both pieces.

The bottoms are Bermuda shorts from the new Favorite Little Things pattern, Little Smarty Pants. You may have seen the all-growed-up version on me. Bloomers & Britches still has a place in my heart but I’ve now made her three pairs of these shorts and have another ready to cut and sew. Super cute, super fast to sew and really easy for her to pull on and off (Miss Independent likes to “do it myself”). Definitely see these being a wardrobe staple this summer.

I want the top in my size. Seriously. It’s Katie‘s newest pattern and I am in looooooove. Such a cute style and, of course, Katie’s easy-to-follow/understand directions make it an absolute delight to sew. I’m trying to figure out how many is too many of these tops to own. This one is made with Jennifer Paganelli‘s Sis Boom fabrics, the Casey Scroll and one of her new Bell Bottoms fabrics. (For the record, this top also counts against my Try It! challenge for this year, since I have a skirt made with the same Casey Scroll fabric (matching outfits item). Woohoooo!) You can also make a dress from the pattern; it probably goes without saying that I’ll be making one of those, too.

I did deviate from the pattern just a wee bit. On the armholes, instead of doing a narrow rolled hem (I’m really bad at them), I serged the armholes, then folded over once and topstitched. Luckily, the hem stayed nice and flat, like it’s supposed to. I think the next one I make, I’ll follow Katie’s directions for using binding on the armholes. (BTW, you can pick up your own copy of this pattern — you won’t be disappointed!)

On a side note … I just want to give a huge “THANK YOU!” to Beth and Kristin and the rest of the folks at Sew, Mama, Sew for letting me be a part of Women’s Clothing Month. They are so incredibly sweet and kind, and it’s really such a wonderful experience to take part in their themes and pattern reviews. And thank you to all the folks who’ve come over to visit my blog thanks to SMS.

This Makes Five

Another one checked off my Try It! list! Can a get a wooohooo?

I spent Mothers Day parked in front of my sewing machine (more or less) and this is one of the projects I cranked out. It looks a little sloppy because I need to mount it on the canvas (it’s just taped down right now), so please excuse the not-quite-straight lines and floppy corners.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about venturing into the world of quilting. I have trouble following directions and the one thing I’m getting about quilting is that it’s vital to be precise. But I thought it out and worked at a reasonable pace, and this is what I created.

No pattern, no directions, just some fabric, trims, photo paper and cotton batting. I used the blank stitch on my sewing machine to sew down the pink panel; I think it’s pretty cool. The photo I tacked down with a straight stitch before adding the trim around the edges. In retrospect, I wish I had used a fusible adhesive first so it would stay nice and flat.

I was a little nervous about the corners, since each of the border pieces overlap. I spent a while trying to figure out that one and ended up leaving a bit of seam allowance open on the first one so I could get the last edge lined up there and that did the trick. (The crochet lace at the top and bottom are sewn in between the pieces.

Really happy with the results and I’m probably even more excited about taking it into the quilt shop this week to show it off.

Tutorial Time!

One of my Try It! projects for the year is to add some tutorials to the Craft Addict blog. I’ve had several requests for tips on creating the inset ruffled panel seen on the outfit on the left, so I decided to share a tutorial so you, too, can add this fun and decorative touch to your sewing projects.

I’ve used these ruffles to embellish the underskirt area showing between the peek-a-boo panels of this top’s overskirt, but you could easily use them anywhere you can imagine. Think of a tote with ruffles cascading down the sides. Or pants legs. Or even the hem of a skirt. You can do as many rows of ruffles as you want; it’s up to you.

The tools I use to create mine include a rotary cutter and mat, a clear acrylic ruler, a fabric marker or chalk, pins, a sewing machine and a serger. Is the serger absolutely necessary? I don’t believe so but it will require that you gather each ruffle by hand and then basting them to a strip of narrow binding or ribbon. Using a serger is infinitely easier and faster, and this tutorial is illustrated with serger-created ruffles.

Before you begin, you will need to decide how large of an area you want to inset with ruffles. On the top shown here, I measured the opening between the overskirt panels and added a half-inch seam allowance to compensate for the additional seams I would be adding to the underskirt. If you are adding ruffles to a pattern piece and will extend them from edge to edge of the pattern piece, you won’t need to worry about adding seam allowances.

Next you’ll want to determine the size and number of your ruffles. I wanted a fair amount of pattern showing between the ruffles, so I measured the height of my panel and subtracted one inch to allow for the seam allowance at the top of the bodice and a 1/2-inch hem. The resulting number was easily divisible by four, allowing me to place my ruffles about every three inches. I then cut strips about twice as long as my panel by two inches deep. Before gathering the top edge, I hemmed the bottom edge. (Why? Because it’s a lot easier to hem a flat piece of fabric than one that’s already been gathered — especially when the gathered edge is so close to the hemmed edge.) I then used my serger to gather and overcast the top edge of each ruffle strip. It’s OK if your ruffles are longer than the panel (mine often are) because you’ll trim everything up neatly after you’ve finished sewing them down.

Use your ruler and fabric marker/chalk to draw guidelines for your ruffles. If you are adding ruffles to a panel that has a curved edge, use your pattern piece to make curved lines at regular intervals instead of straight lines. This will let your ruffles follow the natural curve of the hem.

Now we’re going to do something a little wacky: you’re going to turn your panel upside down. Why? Stop asking so many question and just do it! LOL! Actually, it’s much easier to pin your ruffles if the fabric is turned this way. Obviously, YMMV and if leaving it right-side up works better for you, then by all means do that. What does matter is that the ruffles should be pinned to the panel with right sides together and the top edge of the ruffle on top of the guide lines. This is the exact opposite of how they will hang when you are finished with your panel. when you are done with each row, you’ll have something that looks like this:

Yes, I pinned all of my ruffles to the panel at the same time. If you prefer, you can pin and sew each row individually. This is what works for me, so that’s what you’re getting in this tutorial. When you’re ready to sew, take the panel to your machine and set your needle position on your sewing machine so that it’s just to the left of your gathering/serger stitches. (If you’ve done your ruffles by hand and basted to a binding strip/ribbon, you will instead use that as your guide.)

Continue to sew until all of your ruffles are attached to the panel. If you did not remove the pins as you were sewing, do so now. (I’m trying to break the habit of sewing over pins; please ignore the photo evidence to the contrary).

Your pin-free panel is getting that much closer to being finished! Take it over to your ironing board and press the ruffles down so the wrong side is touching the panel and the ruffles are hanging in the proper direction (see photo below). You may need to gently tug the ruffles down and away from the fabric panel to make sure you are pressing a nice, clean top edge without any “bubbles” of extra fabric.

When all of your ruffles are pressed down properly, return with the panel to your sewing machine and topstitch closely to the top edge of each ruffle. This will help keep your ruffles neatly hanging properly, as well as hide the attached edge below. I used a contrast stitching on these ruffles but you could use a coordinating thread to make the stitching less obvious.

Now use your ruler and rotary cutter to trim of any excess ruffle hanging over the edge of your panel (see photo below, left). Your finished panel will then be ready to insert into your garment! (photo below, right)

The edges of the ruffles will be caught in the seams of your garment, like so:

Skirt Flirt

I’ve been at it again. Making skirts, that is. They’re just so darn easy! Fast, too. I think these three took me no more than two hours — and that included drafting the pattern.

Casey Scroll skirtRobert Kaufman skirt

I used Sew What Skirts to guide me on the pattern drafting. I’ve drafted A-line skirts before but thought I’d take advantage of some professional advice. I’m happy with the results and even wore one yesterday as my oldest and I toured a college campus. (Totally made my day when a random passerby complimented it, too!)

Today I’ve been lounging around in my new tee. I love it! I bought it from Moxie Madness on Etsy; she was kind enough to list one in the size and color I wanted. I think I’m going to make a cute pair of capris to go with it, since the weather is warming up enough that jeans will soon be uncomfortable.

I’ll be taking a bit of a blog break the next few days as spring break comes to a close, but be sure to catch up with me next week. I have some BIG news to share!