Tuesday, July 3, 2012

alabama stitchin

It took all of my will power but I left my sewing machine home for my 10 day trip to Maine.  I did however bring along a bit of handstitching.  First on my agenda was to finish my Alabama Chanin style skirt.  I started this project last fall.  I got about 1 panel of the 4 completed then it sat in a plastic bag and slowly became a part of the stash - until last week.

If you are not familiar with the whole Alabama Chanin thing, you first start with 2 layers of knit fabric, stencil with fabric paint on the top layer, handstitch around the stencil, cut out the center of the stenciled part, assemble your project and done!

It was really surprising how quickly it actually went together once I wasn't thinking about something else.  I normally don't sit for long periods of time and I can only spend about and hour tops on one project.  I think I'm a little a.d.d. in that area.  My problem is I start a project and work on it but one of the tools or fabrics gives me an idea for something else and it just keeps going like that, until I have 3 or 4 projects just started and nothing finished.  That is why I am all about the fast and easy projects! 

My first Alabama stitch project was a small scarf for my mom.  I used upcycled tee's and that did go together quickly.  Then onto the daunting skirt.  Who knew if I just spent more than 30 mins at a time it would be done in no time.  A couple afternoons and half way though my vacation it was completed and I was even able to wear it (after I bought the perfect white shirt to go with it). 

Let me tell you this skirt is comfy!  I was really worried that it would not fit me.  Just holding it up to my waist there was no way.  But then I slipped it on and because of the stretch knit it was perfect.  I also didn't have any of the fold over elastic with me and found that for my body it wasn't even necessary.  I tend to be a little wider in the middle area (especially after kids) and more elastic probably wouldn't be as comfortable.  Now it's done and now I'm thinking about my next project.  Maybe another skirt in a different pattern.   Maybe I need to go away again so I can get it done!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I'm always in a search for quick and easy projects and ideas.  Tubes are definitely a fun quilting technique.  I spent half my day today making several of these easy blocks.  I thought I would share a quick tutorial while I was at it.  Maybe it's something new to you too!

You will need 3 different fabrics, cutting mat, rotary cutter, ruler with a 45 degree angle.

Cut all the width of the fabric.
Cut 3 2 1/2" strips of white
Cut 1 strip of another color
Cut 2 strips of the last color

Sew 2 white strips on either side of the 1 colored strip.

Sew the last 2 white strips on either side of the last colored strip.
Iron all seams towards the darker.

Then lay the two new larger strips on top of each other right sides together. 
Stitch down the two long sides.

Then using the 45 degree mark on your ruler, line it up with your seam line and cut. 

Move the ruler up to the opposite side and cut again on the 45 making a triangle.  Repeat until you are through the strip.  (You will have more than you need.)
Unfold those new blocks and press.

Stitch 4 together as shown.  I turned my 4 blocks opposite ways but you could match them all up for a continuous look.

Now isn't that easy!  I kept wanting to try new color combinations.  I almost have 10 of them done and then will be making a full quilt. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

my take on a snack sack

There are tons of tutorials out there on snack sacks but I finally made one that works for our family.  First off I went looking for a good solution to the lining.  Regular fabric is out.  First reason is it doesn't keep what's inside fresh and anything greasy like chips is gonna leak though.  I carry several laminated cottons in my shop so I did some research on if they were food safe.  In that search I started to find all sorts of horrible things about fabrics.  Who had any idea?  Actually I was pretty bummed out thinking how can I make a reusable bag that I feel comfortable having my kids use?  Some days I send my preschooler to school with as many as 3 or 4 baggies.  Using containers is not an option because there is only so much space in her little kitty lunch box.  My solution - recycle what I already have which makes me feel even better about these little snack sacks!  Enjoy the tutorial.

First of all I prefer to use a serger for this snack sack because it's so much faster but a regular sewing machine can be used with a few extra seams.  I have subbed in some of those instructions too.

2 pieces 6 1/2" wide x 7" tall pieces of fabric for exterior
2 pieces 6 1/2" wide x 7" tall plastic from cereal box lining.  (For this you want to make sure you use the opaque plastic found inside the cardboard cereal box.     You will want to test the plastic first by cutting it with a pair of scissors then pulling at the cut.  If it tears easily then it's not a good plastic to use.)
Velcro (I used 3/4" and cut in half lengthwise)

Sew the strips of velcro to the tops of the plastic pieces about 3/4" from the top.

 Serge the plastic to the exterior fabric at the tops.  (or sew right sides together then flip right sides out and top stitch.)

 Put your pieces insides together and serge around the last three sides.  (or right sides together stitch around the last three sides.  Use pinking shears around those edges then turn right side out.) 

Recycling and saving plastic all at once!

Super fast & easy to sew!

Use up scraps.  Make lots of different sizes. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

half a decade

Can it possibly be?  We have had this little girl for 5 years!  Amongst all the craziness of life I wanted to be able to give her a special party.  She requested a mermaid theme.  Ok, shouldn't be too hard!

The cake is something that her aunt does best and always has!

Now to blow out the candles.  All the blondies get in on this one!

Ahhh...too much sun!!!  Course you can't have a mermaid party without a mermaid skirt!  I made these up for party favors.  They are so simple.  I basically measured (or guessed) waist to just below knee for the top then added the frilly fin bottom.  I elasticized the waist and the middle section where you can see it sewn.  I left the back seam of the "fins" unsewn and just serged the bottom edges so I didn't have to hem anything.  The elastic in the middle left lots of running and playing room.  Hmmm...I haven't done a tutorial in awhile, maybe it's time.

No event is complete without a craft project.  We did maracas following a fun tutorial I found over at Made.  Everyone loved it.  Even the adults got in on it!  Hers looked a little cooler but there was no way I was letting this bunch get their hands on permanent markers. 

My sister-in-law brought along her needle felting.  I purposely have never looked at a pattern, book or tutorial because I just don't need one more thing to get into.  I can't ever just do a project.  No, I have to get a whole stores worth of supplies so this is one I am staying away from for awhile.  I did have to watch though so now I at least understand how it's done.  So cool.  Oh, those decorations in the background I also got ideas from www.danamadeit.com.  She's full of the good stuff!

After our party I made up a little girl bag for another party we went to on Sunday for a classmate.   One more party this coming Saturday that I have to make a gift for.  This party is for one of those little mermaids above who is going to be 4.  She's into black.  So I think a black skirt with lots of pink tulle under it is in order.

Friday, April 20, 2012


It occurred to me this morning as I was sitting here at my dining room table looking around the house and enjoying the sunlight coming through and soaking everything with a warm glow...it occurred to me that with my blog I have started to see everything in a new light. 

With a blog you don't want to share negative things, at least not for the most part.  Instead you pick beautiful or fun photos.  I like to chose those photos that also show real life. 

Of course everything is not wonderful in my life but when I think that I should do another post and then start looking for photos I start to see for instance that the breakfast that was made in a hurry for me when my husband was preparing his own food for the day, but was then was too rushed to stay and eat with us, but that breakfast he made me is a beautiful thing.  That then helps me to realize that we, as husband and wife, have learned to work along side each other and to overlook so many of those things that will drive you up a wall if you let them.

I wish I could do a side by side comparison of 10 years ago vs. today or even 5 years.  It would be amazing and I like to think of how far I have come and we have come as a family.

So for me, my blog is a real place but a place that I can honestly say has helped me see all the little things in a new and positive way and to see that the negative stuff is just a passing necessity to help you grow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

beautiful day

Today is sunny and warm hot.  Almost like summer out there.  This weekend we finally got some yard work done.  After a rain shower last night we woke up to the leaves popping out everywhere.  The smell outside is amazing.  The birds are singing.  The girls are getting along.  It's just beautiful right now.  I wish I could capture this in a jar and bring it out when I really need it. 
I have an addiction....to sewing machines.  It actually started because I'm too cheap to buy a new one.  And I love the hunt of finding a good deal.  One of my favorite ones is this lovely lavender machine.  This photo does not show the lavender all that well but it is a very pretty pale shade for sure and makes me smile when I look at it.  Of course the retro shape just adds to the coolness. 

In total I think I have 16 right now.  Some of them are great machines and are used at the Stitch Lounge for rentals.  I seriously don't believe in spending thousands on a machine.  (I'm not saying that when I am rolling in money and can't find anything better to spend it on that I wouldn't indulge though.)  When it comes down to it, a straight stitch and zig zag are essential.  A button hole is nice too.  The quality of the stitch is something I never thought about until I tried so many machines but it is very important and is the difference between looking homemade and looking professional.  An auto thread cutter is a dream of mine. 

My favorite place to find machines? Thrift stores.  This weekend I found this machine.  It was super clean and in a super clean case.  Rare.  Plus it had tags from a local repair place so that tells me someone at least had it serviced occasionally.  It's a Nelco.  I never heard of it and am having a hard time even finding any info on it.  But let me tell you it sews like a dream!  I actually think it's more of a commercial machine because it is super fast and sews through tough materials like butter.  This is probably my best thrift find.  Price... just $14.99  Oh, and the stitch quality, even better than my new machines.  

I planned on sewing like crazy this weekend and this machine just made it more fun.  It's always nice to get a little boost when you need it. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Just when I think it can't get any busier...

Rewind one year ago.  I had a 1 1/2 year old and an almost 4 year old.  I was home all the time.  3 mornings the girls went to daycare so I could get the bookkeeping done for our family business.  Laundry was usually done and put away, house vacuumed a couple times a week, bathrooms clean, sewing was mixed in when the girls were playing in the morning.  I had lots of cuddle time.  We regularly visited family and friends.  I made my own bread every week and a healthy dinner was on the table at night.  

Fast forward to today.  A typical week for us lately usually accompanies a sick person in the house.  3 days spent at the Stitch Lounge.  (I opened a business since last year.)  Etsy account is finally taking off so orders arrive from there that need to be made.  I desperately needed a car so I got a job for 2 days of my normal bookkeeping days at home.  One daughter started preschool so drop offs and pick ups are in order.  The family business is growing so along with there being added work I now need to fit my 3 days of bookkeeping into one.  The Stitch Lounge is moving to a busier city so I will be required to put in full days all week.  (Not quite sure how that is going to play out, guess I'll be hiring some help.) For a glimpse of my house...both bathrooms are in dire need of cleaning.  We tell the girls not to put their clothes on the floor because it is dirty.  Toys are not picked up before leaving the house or going to bed.  Vacuum...what is that?  I used to have hardwood floors now I have genuine authentic pet hair carpeting.  Dishes get done when they overflow onto the counters.  The girls are lucky if they have matching outfits.  I must have been totally bored or maybe my hormones finally kicked back into normal (whatever that is) mode after having 2 kids. I'm exhausted but never happier.  I'm letting go and enjoying living in the moment.  I will not be offering to host Easter dinner this year.

Monday, February 20, 2012

veggie painting

I struggle most days with finding things to do with both of my kids.  I struggle with patience.  I wish that playing with them came naturally, like it seems to do with my husband.  I find that now more than ever I want my house picked up and at least the floors somewhat clean.  It's a constant battle as anyone with kids knows.  I spent the morning and afternoon today at the Stitch Lounge struggling with a dress that someone commissioned me to do.  I was feeling just ok about it after 5 hours so far until I tried it on the mannequin and discovered there is a very small hole in the fabric, right on the boob!  Ughhhh....I could still cry...just knowing how much time I've already put into it and not really enjoying it.  Of course, it's not an easy fix at all.  I pretty much have to disassemble the whole thing.   I will work on it again Wednesday and see if I can't fix it somehow.  That coupled with the kids arguing all day about the dumbest things I decided we all needed a little something different when we got home.   So out came the veggies.

I saw this in a magazine awhile back and thought it looked fun.  They showed a celery bunch cut at the base and used as a flower but it was fun to see what else we could find in the fridge.  Funny those simple things we just don't ever seem to think of on our own. 

What a great way to make some wrapping paper!

I'm thinking fabric and fabric paints too.  How neat would this be incorporated in a bag!?

 I've got a pile of dishes, laundry to wash and fold, animals to feed, dinner to make, orders to sew, bills to pay....oh, and I'm the last to get this cold that's been going through our family.  

Our veggie painting did seem to get us all feeling a little better.  The girls are finally playing together - politely.  And my glass of wine is hitting the spot.... 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

so much to sew

Busy as a bee...who would have thought.  Just because I went and got myself a job the other businesses start picking up.  I've got orders coming in and it only wants to make me sew something that is just for fun.  Tonight I'm up late working on my daughter's sewing machine because it's so much quieter than my big clunky one and I can work while the little ones and the hubby is asleep.  So funny that this little thing is probably better than my full sized machine.  The stitch quality is awesome. 

Were did the days go where I could easily stay up working until midnight or later? Project Runway came on and my brain was involuntarily envisioning me on the couch.  I am so addicted to these fashion shows lately.  Typing this my eyes are heavy but I have so much to sew and so much to do. 

One bag down...and lots more to go...I guess bed is calling now and I'll give this another go in the morning.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

creative energy

So I went and started a new job last week.  Now mind you I do not need nor do I have time for another job.  Being a full-time mom, plus bookkeeper/keep-it-together-person of the 2 family businesses and then starting the Stitch Lounge this past fall...yes, you get the idea.  Actually the real reason is I need to replace my 13 year old car and having been without any payments for many years and knowing exactly the car I want which of course is allowing for the expanded family now and whatever else...well, I'm working for my new (used) car.  And for fabric.

But with the addition of this new responsiblity I'm finding it odd that I'm sewing and cleaning more than ever!  I couldn't find the time to get everything done before, how the heck am I doing it now?!  I even got the quilting bug back which I haven't done in literally 2 years!!  I just can't stop myself from creating new things.  Everyone else seems to be happy in the family too.  Is it really true the saying...If Momma ain't happy...ain't no one happy?  Hmmmm....just maybe in our case. 

I'm wondering if I've hit that sweet spot, the one where I've got just enough going on that I don't have time to be lazy or dilly-dally around.  I have to get it done now or it's not gonna get done or it's gonna drag me down and get in my way!  And I don't feel like I'm stressed or over worked... yet.  Or maybe I'm headed for a major breakdown... Guess we'll just have to wait and see but until then I'm taking this new creative energy and running with it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

a few gifts

This year for Christmas about 95% of all gifts given by our family were handmade...yes, by me.  I didn't feel overwhelmed and really enjoyed making everything, which is definitely not the norm, especially when it comes to the stress of everything else going on around the holidays.  I just thought I would share a few of them....

Quilted country star table runner with a very pieced backing...making the most out of scraps.


Knitted cowl and wrist warmers.

Another knitted cowl and matching wristlet.

One more knitted cowl using a waffle weave pattern and a much thinner yarn than the other two.  And part of the 5% of non-handmade gifts..a candle accompanied this gift also.

Pajama pants - these are 3 of the 6 pairs. 

2 of my new favorite bags for teacher gifts.

While not my gifts to be given, I know at least some of them where.  I also made 14 of these covers for Weight Watchers pocket guides and 3 month journals.  A few other things were probably thrown in there but I didn't take photo's of them.  And all this done from Thanksgiving until Christmas morning.  I'm ready to work on something for me now.