Sunday, November 29, 2009


I made this wallet as a birthday present for my sister. Lots of pockets, but lightweight... I have so much to carry around these days, I'm really into lightweight! Does anyone else with kids ever start to feel like a pack horse? I figured since she's always lugging around a big camera bag or a carseat/diaper bag, she'd appreciate that feature as well. I started with the tutorial I found here, but added to it so that instead of just folding in half, I'd have a tri-fold wallet with a flap.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Ava has wanted one of these fluffy beauties for a while. Her birthday was coming up, but when I saw the boutique prices I thought I'd try making one myself. I admit, I'd always wanted one as a little girl too. I followed the tutorial I saw here on Martha Stewart's website, along with the tips and fabric purchasing source here on one of my favorite blogs: Grosgrain. 15 hours later (pieced together after the little darlings were asleep), I had an adorable pettiskirt, a realization that the boutique prices are cheap if you count your time (minus materials I figure I would have earned about $3/hour or less were I to sell this at a boutique price), and some additional tips of my own. The next one will go faster, and yes there will be a next one. With three daughters and regular play dates, one fluffy pettiskirt is not enough.

So here are my tips:
1. The measurements on Martha's site are for a very short, toddler size skirt. For older girls, you will need to add an inch or two to the width of each strip. You'll probably need at least 6 yards of the nylon chiffon.

2. Martha's tutorial suggests 1 1/2 yards of the satin charmeuse, but there is enough gather in the waistband to skimp a few inches and just get enough for the width of the band you need, from 8 to 12 inches of a 45/46 inch wide yardage for example.

3. Instead of measuring all those rectangles out of the fabric, I did a little math and approximated the following so I can just use my cutting pad and ruler and cut straight strips across the width of the fabric. The nylon chiffon I ordered was about 46 inches wide so I cut:
1st tier: 6 strips at 3.5 to 5 inches wide (depending on length of skirt)
2nd tier: 14 strips at 4.5 to 6 inches wide
Ruffle fluff: 38 strips at 2.5 inches wide (you don't need to make this wider regardless of skirt size)

4. It took me almost exactly one roll of elastic thread to finish all of the shirring for one skirt. (To shirr: hand roll elastic thread, without stretching, onto your bobbin and set the stitch length to a long setting. As you sew, the chiffon will gather up.)

5. When sewing the tiers together, put the ruffled/shirred layer on the bottom and the smooth layer on top so the ruffles don't catch on the sewing machine's presser foot.

Crinkle Monster

I've seen variations of these crinkle/taggie toys all over the internet and when I got an invite to a baby shower I thought I'd try making one myself. I think the imperfections add to it's quirky cuteness.
Minky fur on the front, soft flannel on the back, different textured ribbons around, and a crinkly layer of plastic inside.

Refashion: Clearance Rack

I love the end of season clearance rack. I know, it's always picked over with extra large or small sizes, but I look for fabrics and details that I like and deal with the fit later. For example:

This creamy tank had some beautiful lace detail and was only .33 cents! (Good timing at Old Navy one day.) However, it was an XXL and the snow was flying the day I bought it. I took in the sides and left it long, which is perfect for tall me. It looks pretty layered under cardigans and jackets:

Example number two:

I don't know who could pull off this sun dress, even in the warm weather. It was large and let's face it, not a lot of coverage going on up top there. The bottom of the dress seemed heavy compared to the flimsy top. But, in addition to the clearance price, I loved the detail at the bottom of the skirt and the fullness of it. So sundress, becomes pretty skirt:

Example 3:
Another "i don't know who could pull this off" outfit, this one started as hoodie attached to very short shorts... but for cheap cheap cheap and a little adjusting I have a comfy tunic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweater Dress How-to

So, how'd I make the sweater dresses? It was so easy! I took some wool sweaters and felted them by washing them in hot water. It shrinks them down a lot, so for Emma's dress it was a good thing I started with a XL men's sweater. I like to work with felted sweaters because they don't unravel at all when you cut them. You will need a sweater comb, or de-fuzzer to remove any pilling. I have seen similar projects made with sweaters of other fibers, I just haven't tried it yet and don't know about unraveling.

For the sleeveless dress I just used one of Emma's dresses as a guide, matched it up to the neckline and cut the sides. If you need to make the neck opening smaller you just take in the seam at the shoulder. I cut the flower from another sweater, lined it with iron-on interfacing to keep it from stretching, and sewed it onto the front. Then, I sewed down the sides and used a black binding around the armhole to finish it off.
For Ava's dress, I literally put my sweater on her inside out, and pinned (with a safety pin or two) the sides about where I needed to take it in. I sewed a seam down each side. Then I tried it on her again before I trimmed off the extra just to be sure... I did have to unpick and sew one side over, so I'm glad I hadn't cut yet. After making sure it fit, I trimmed off the extra. I took the collar off another sweater (I have a bag of unwearable, but full of potential sweaters) and sewed it into the neck. I used pieces of the same sweater to make the flowers for her hair clip and the front of her dress.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Refashioned: Sweater Dresses

A couple of old wool sweaters became cozy new dresses for the girls over the weekend.Ava's favorite part was the matching hairclip that she has worn every day since and keeps in a special place (her toy refrigerator) at night.
Want to know how I made these? Check out my next post.

Dried arrangement

As I drove up to my parents home in the mountains I was so taken with the subtle variations in the pale colors of the dried grasses and the sagebrush in contrast with the dark, bare branches of the trees. It was so beautiful. I gathered a bunch of branches and dried grasses and put them in a vase to remind me. Emma added the pumpkins in a special arrangement of her own. We've been thinking of painting the pumpkins silver...
My favorite are these "silver dollar" seed pods that are so irridecsent and catch the light from the lamps.

Fall Leaves

On a table, door, or wall,
a little quilted square for fall.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Warm and stylish ears...

My beautiful sister-in-law crochets these lovely headbands with felt flowers that double as trendy accessory and ear-warmer. Just check out how cute and affordable they are... now available in her etsy shop.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stenciled Pillowcase Tote

Here's another pillowcase tote that I made for a church auction. I added my own stencil to embellish this one and I like how it turned out.

Stencil how-to: I just enlarged and printed the flower pattern from my computer and taped it to a window and traced it onto freezer paper. Then I cut out the design and with the waxy side down, ironed it onto my fabric. Then I used fabric paint medium to turn a custom-mixed color into fabric paint and sponged it onto the stencil area. After it dries, you just peel off the freezer paper and you have such a clean edged pattern. I love this method because the stencil doesn't shift or let paint bleed under the edge.

A pretty floral print pillowcase for the inside/reverse side of the bag and the handles.

I love that so many have expressed interest in making this bag. I will try to put together a tutorial here soon... watch this space!

Idea Book

I subscribe to a lot of magazines... a guilty pleasure passed on from my mom I guess. I remember stacks near her bed. Now that I have three kids, my leisure time is limited and the magazines seem to stack up pretty fast. I used to read them. Then I started thumbing through them and dog-earing the pages that I liked. Now, I've realized that I'm never going to get back to the stack to look at those pages so I've come up with a new plan. I immediately tear out any picture that I like and "scrap" it into my idea book. I also jot little notes about projects I'd like to try. I write the date too and it's become a kind of creative journal. I tear out any articles of interest and keep them in a folder I can take with myself to a doctor's office or read on a long drive... much smaller than that daunting stack I had growing. Now I can find my "inspiration" pics a lot easier. I love the idea of an "inspiration" bulletin board too. One day, when I have a personal space for crafting/sewing I will do that too. My favorite notebooks are the inexpensive composition books that I cover with pretty paper, or in the case of my latest, vintage contact paper I found at a thrift store. I love this print and it made it easy to add a little strap to hold the notebook closed (those adhesive velcro dots are the best!)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thrifty Decorating

One of my neighbors is a really great decorator and does home staging. She shared some of her secrets in a short class and I was amazed to learn that her expensive-looking decor was accomplished so inexpensively. She really inspired me. I'm trying to look at things that I already have in a new light or for different purposes. I've since found a number of home decorating blogs with similar themes of thrifty decorating. I love re-using, re-making and "upcylcling" things when sewing and want to learn more about doing the same for decorating. I have a few projects in the works, but here is a really simple one:
A glass cover that I found on its own for $1, plus a dish and a candle pedestal...
... become a cute serving stand.
I can just picture little cookies or cupcakes in here, or even some fruit:
Speaking of thrifty things, I went to a local thrift store in search of some picture frames and found some great ones that just need a little love, along with a few other treasures:
This is a Leacock Prints tea-size table cloth with the most charming design, and it is in perfect condition! It fits perfectly on the little table my girls use for their tea parties. So sweet!

Below, this shabby-chic looking tin was just calling me to take it home and fill it with hydrangeas or one of my mother's beautiful dried floral arrangements ...
... and, a little bird to sit on my kitchen table.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

White Fluffies

I've been surrounding myself with white fluffy things lately:
One day, while experimenting with elastic thread and ruffles, I made this little pillow...
Today, I decided that I needed another pillow to go with it.
I started with a pillowcase.
Then I had some fun with a stencil.
And now my white ruffled pillow doesn't look so lonely on that chair.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More car seat covers

I've made a couple more car seat covers – one for me and one for a friend. I am having a hard time choosing which one I want to keep. I think I'll let her choose. I went for a less bulky bow on these, even though I adored the look of the other. I also tried different snaps on the straps with a lower profile so they would lay flatter. Velcro would probably work too, I just didn't know how durable that would be. On the blue cover I used the same geometric black and white print on the inside, but I really love the larger print I found for the lining of the tan and black cover. The buttons on the blue/brown version are my favorite so be sure to click on the pic for a closer look!

I've had a few requests for my pattern. I will have to send it via snail mail, so email me your mailing address if you are serious.