Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas sewing continues.

Annee's last post re-motivated me to get my Christmas sewing done!  I said it in my last post, but to really get everything you want sewn for Christmas, you should probably start in August.  However, if you are anything like me, it's more fun waiting until the last days of November and make yourself go mad trying to get everything done in time to mail or put under the Christmas tree for Christmas morning.  My mad dash has started, and here's what I've been up to since I last posted...

I hung my Christmas party garland and bunting that I made two years ago (I think?).  I love having it hanging in my kitchen for the entire holiday season, and last year I got smart and left the nails in the exposed beams in my kitchen making rehanging it a breeze.

After Christmas last year, I cut out a *Merry Christmas* banner, but never sewed it.  I'm pretty positive I thought it would be so nice to have the banner all cut out.  It was nice to have it all cut out, but why didn't I just sew it in January??  The day after Thanksgiving I put myself on the clock.  I had one hour to work on it, and to try it get it done.  Being a runner, I love timing myself, sew it was the motivation I needed to just get the project done!

Before Thanksgiving I bought a fat eight bundle of Christmas fabric to put in my embroidery hoops, and yesterday I switched out my fabric.  Now I don't know if I'll always use the fabric in my hoops, so I decided not to cut the fabric to just fit the hoops.  That way if I ever try to quilt or make something with the fabric I won't have these random pieces to work with.  I put the whole fat eight in the hoop, and then I iron and pull it into place.

Yes, I iron right on the wood hoop.  Maybe you're not to suppose to, but I find if I do this then I don't have to cut the fabric and it will lay flat against the wall when it's hung.

We don't have a mantel over our fireplace, but earlier this year we put an Ikea Expedit next to our fireplace, so it's serving the same purpose as a mantel.  I've got it all decked out.  

Deck the halls...

I think the hoops are a nice touch.  I'm thinking maybe I'll make one of these Christmas trees, but it might just have to wait until next year.  

And honestly I think the faux mantle is rather busy enough for now.  I've had 6 Christmases without a mantle, so I'm probably having a hard time with editing.  I want every cute idea I've ever seen put on a mantle on my Expedit!

Last, but sew not least, I made an imitation Crate and Barrel Christmas Tree Pillow.  This will go down as my greatest creation of the season.  At one point I thought I might just scrap the idea of making it and just buy it.  However, the CB pillow is 12 inches and costs $26!  Not to mention a 12 inch pillow is smaller then I wanted my pillow to be.  Sew, friends, I gathered 6 pieces of felt (9"x12" pre-cut) and cut 100+ two inch circles.  If you have the plastic kid cups from Ikea, the bottom of the cup is the perfect size.

My couch is red, so I used a white background (the other reason why I totally had to make my own knock-off pillow).  

Before I got to work making the tree, I stitched a triangle the size I wanted my Christmas tree to be on the front of the pillow.  This way I wouldn't get lost as I made my tree, and the triangle guided me as I stuffed it full of green circles.

Next I switched out my regular presser foot with my embroidery foot.  I dropped my feed dogs, and I sewed several small circles in the middle of each circle.

And I repeated this a 100+ times.  By the end I thought I was going to go nuts.  I actually couldn't sew this pillow in one sitting.  I wanted to make sure that I made the tree VERY full.  Just the way the Crate and Barrel one looks.

I also felt like every time I added a circle I needed to pull and cut the top and bobbin thread to make sure that I was getting the tree as full as I wanted it to be.  I didn't trim the bobbin threads until the end of the project.  Here's what it looked like:

I could still probably trim threads on the front, but alas, I am done.  The masterpiece has been placed on the couch for my kids to destroy for all to enjoy!

I probably should have put a zipper in this pillow, but after finishing the Christmas tree, I was done.  

It got a deep envelope closure.  

I also whipped up a very simple Christmas pillow to sit behind the Christmas tree.  It helps balance the couch out.  

I kind of want to make a simple cover for my rectangle pillow that normally sits in the middle of the couch. Since my couch is so long, I kind of think it looks empty.  I kind of want a Christmas quilt or blanket.  But it's looking like I might need to wait on all of that until next year.  December is upon us, and I have gifts I need to start sewing!

I'm sure I'll let you know if once I get it figured out!  Next up I have a wreath that I'm half way done with, but I'm creatively stumped on how to finish it.  If I don't get it figured out soon, I'll post it and ask for help.  For now I think this post is long enough!

Signing off from the West Coast.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fired Up.

We spend Thanksgiving in Virginia with family.  The weather was perfection.  The food was delicious.  The time together with my siblings and spouses was just right.  The only thing missing was the opportunity to sew.  It seems that with the oncoming of the holidays, or with the changing of the seasons, I get all fired up about creating again.  Suddenly I have a million ideas swirling around.  Lists start to get written up.  Fabric starts accumulating on my shelves.  Things get made!

Sunday was our recovery day from the trip.  The kids were content to be reunited with all of their belongings and favorite activities, so it was a quiet afternoon for me.  The perfect time to slip off into the sewing garage and get things done.  I did start a Christmas wreath while on vacation.  I was anxious to get it finished first off when we got home:

Nothing too extraordinary.  My lights ended up being a bit bigger than I think they should have been, but I'm too burnt out on this project to go back and make a change.  It will be festive and whimsical throughout this Christmas season.  That will do.

Right before we left for vacation, I had ordered a half yard of an Alexander Henry fabric called "Merry Main Street".  I can't remember how I stumbled across it, but when I did, I knew it needed to be added to the Christmas decore.  Waiting for me in my mailbox when I got home was my half yard cut.  After the wreath was finished, I got the crazy idea that I could make three pillows to complete my pillow collection started last year....

These pillows are totally simple.  I simply added some pre-made red pipping, and then it's backed with a green polka dot and an envelop closure.  These are season decor.  No need to go all out!  Getting them done was the most important feature of these beauties.

Of course we stopped at Ikea on our way to VA.  Lucky for me this red linen was on clearance.  Only $3.99 per yard and it was something like 56" wide.  That's a lot of fabric for just $4.  I couldn't resist a red bow pillow.  I do love my green one so much.  Making one out of red, I thought could present endless possibiliteis, Valentines day, etc. 

Please agree with me that this "Merry Main Street" fabric makes you feel merry indeed.  I really love it.

In other areas of the sewing garage, there is a massive quilt-in-the-works waiting to get loved again.  I work on it in fits and bursts.  Then I walk around it all sprawled out for days and days.  It's a love hate relationship going on right now.  

And finally, two little ladies will be attending The Carolina Ballet performance of "The Nutcracker" this weekend.  It will be their first time attending a live ballet performance.  True story, I'm totally more excited than they are, and they are SUPER excited.  Don't you think someone should be wearing this dress, with this fabric?!  I DO!  Let's see how the week goes...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving comes first...

 But, I've already started my Christmas sewing.  I mean to really do Christmas sewing right you have to get started in August.  Well, I was a tad bit busy in August, and sewing wasn't allowed to really be on the list of things to do.

Sew, I started pinning some ideas on my Christmas pinterest board, and away I went this weekend.  First up was finishing my Scrappy Christmas Tree.  I was having a hard time finishing it because I couldn't figure out how to quilt it.

  I decided to do a FMQ on the tree that looks like a combination of a strand of Christmas tree lights and ornaments.  Maybe a stretch, but it looks fine from a far, so it works for me.

Then I did just horizontal lines around the tree on the linen part.  The Italian is so happy to have it hanging on the fireplace.  Normally I have a Christmas Moose hanging there, and he kind of thinks Rudolph is a little over the top.  Maybe I'll hang the Moose in our room this year.  Haha!!

Okay, after the Christmas tree was finished I went right into making pillows.  I have a vision of Christmas pillows adorning my couch for the month of December.  I'm trying to keep them rather simple.  All the back will just be envelope closes.  So far I've finished two pillows.

Just know that making that snowflake was harder than it looks.  I'll confess that I had to do a google search for how to make a six sided snowflake.  I love where my hobby of sewing has taken me.  Never in my life would I have thought I'd need to google search how to make a snowflake, but how thankful am I that I can google such instructions!

Now I'm off to cut 100 circles and attempt to recreate this Crate and Barrel beauty.  Wish me luck.  I'm not the most well rested seamstress at the moment, but I'm crossing my fingers that my will to finish my Christmas pillows will keep me going!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parisian Chic

I've been feeling like Grace doesn't have enough clothing.  Now if my husband is reading this he'll think I'm crazy.  But, I just cleaned out her drawers and gave away all the clothes that are too small and put away all the warm weather clothing.  That left Grace with very few options, and girls need options.

I made a long list of things I want to sew before the Christmas season is upon us (it starts the day after Thanksgiving in this house), but before I feel like I could get too far into my seasonal endeavors (I'm going to make 5 Christmas throw pillows!!!), I needed to take a brief time out and make my big "little" girl something.

One of Grace's favorite books are the Fancy Nancy series, and Nancy loves all things French, so Grace does too.  Grace has even told us that she wants to go to Paris, France to see the Eiffel Tower.  This is on my "places to go" list as well, so I have high hopes we'll both get there sooner rather than later.  Sew, when I came across this Michael Miller fabric in my stash that's been there for over 3 years, I knew it needed to be something Grace could wear.

I used the Lazy Day Skirt pattern as my base pattern, but I doubled it and added a coordinating fabric and some rick rack.  Doubling the pattern made the skirt extra full and twirly and fancy.

Pefect for my chic little Parisian wanna be.  

Grace giggled at the sight of her new outfit this morning, and when she saw herself in the mirror she said, "Oh, I look so beautiful."  High self esteem is not something Grace is lacking in these days.  And, I kind of have to agree she does look beautiful.  I am kind of biased though.  

The best part of this project is that it was done in less than an hour.  Those are seriously the best kind of projects!!

Now back to my lofty goals for Christmas sewing.  Did I mention I'm making my kids throw quilts??  I finished the quilt tops, and now I'm going to attempt to quilt them to a minky backing.  Any tips or suggestions before tackling quilting with minky??  I'm thinking I'll just be doing some straight line quilting, and I will use tons of quilting spray adhesive and safety pins.  If you have any other hot tips, I'd love some advice!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Table Runner

Didn't I tell you that Annee's post would blow your mind??  My Sew Sister is sew amazing!!

I don't have much to show, but I was really pleased with how quickly I executed this table runner.  My mom's birthday is this weekend, so I had to have it sewn and mailed no later than Tuesday.  I decided Sunday night that I was going to just go for it, and I started making the wonky stars.  Have you made these??  They are quick and easy and fun to make.

I made myself a table runner like this last December.  My idea for it came from Anna of Noodlehead, and the tutorial I used for the wonky stars was from The Silly BooDilly.

Now my mom is more of a "bright and funky" kind of fabric lady.  Those are her words not mine.  She would have probably preferred the three wonky stars to be more like the fabric I put on the back (Tina Givens Treetop Fancy), but I just didn't have 2 other fabrics that I felt coordinated with it.  My solution was to put it on the back, and then hope that  my mom loves Anna Maria Horner as much as I do.

All three wonky stars are made out of Anna Maria's Innocent Crush line, but my favorite has to be the Woodcut Golden star.  It's one of my all time favorite fabrics.  I'm kind of thinking I might need to use it to make these curtains for myself.

Okay, friends, I'm signing off for now.  I've been cutting quilt squares all day long, so maybe I'll have an update in the near future.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 7, 2011

October wasn't for wimps.

I hardly know what to say for myself or where to start.  After my birthday on the 8th, I feel like there was an avalanche of life, and I got buried somewhere along the way.  Sewing went from being my therapy to being more like a "job".  Much less therapeutic in that regard!  Nonetheless, I was plugging away on various projects here and there throughout the month.  I feel like dumping them all right here, right now, and then just starting into November with a clean and optimistic approach.  Let's see...

There were baby gifts:

via The Handmade dress
size 12 months 

Another attempt at the hooded-towel.
I don't even know which tutorial I used, there are like a million.  

I may have morphed two together, but I really liked the fact that this one suggested doing a french seam on the hood, so that it was completely enclosed, and therefore you don't see any unfinished, or serged seams, even on the inside of the towel.  Kind of cool.  

Another diaper clutch. 
This time I just followed the tutorial straight.  My brain was tired, and I couldn't find my pattern pieces for turning it the other way.  

Then, right before Halloween, we had a little birthday party to go to.  This party girl was turning 10 and loves to read.  I knew we'd be getting her a gift card to Barnes and Noble, but something is wrong with my head, and I can't seem to get over the idea that my hands should contribute to most gifts around here...

An easy, peasy, scrappy linen zipper pouch.  

Then, there were visitors to the sewing garage!  That was an October highlight! 

There was Halloween bunting making, a zipper wristlet, and a black little mini-skirt all going on at the same time.  It was intense and great.  

Action shot!

Here, Summer (from Seven Pretty) is showing when things were going great. 

Here I captured a moment when things were really intense.  

Here I am with my two little sisters!  Love these girls.

I spent most of my time that weekend sewing with things that were black, shiny and slippery.  If I never sew with satin again, it will be one of life's greatest blessings.  Not likely to happen though, given that my ladies already have lots of satiny dreams laid out, given the success over Halloween.

I helped create one Hermione, and one Witch Princess!  The Old Guy was totally pulled from closets, and mostly great because of the perfect wig and cane, courtesy of!  Since I put so much effort into making Ruby's Witch Princess dreams come true, I may make her do another photo shoot with that dress to make sure it gets properly honored.  Maybe next year I'll remember to make the Halloween costumes in August?!

The best part of the Hermione costume, was that I decided she needed a cute little black skirt to go with her robe.  I knew I could do that many different ways, but realizing that a black skirt could be a really great wardrobe staple, I tried to make it worth the effort.  It's my favorite Halloween memory:

A fine whale corduroy, black, Little Mini Skirt, as seen before here, here, and here...

It's such a great skirt, she's already worn it about a half-dozen times.  That's when sewing is totally worthwhile!!

Of course, how could I close-out the month of October, without remember the night I texted Liz a question about a sewing pattern we both had.  And before I knew it, we were in a sewing race, to see if we could both sew a Halloween peasant style dress within two hours or less.  All communications during the exercise, via text.  It was one of my favorite nights of the month.  Liz, you should insert your finished product here too.  Here's my iphone photo that I texted to Liz when I was done:

Which in turn ended up being a great outfit for Jane to wear to the NC State Fair:

So anyway, I guess that's all I have to show for myself and the month of October!  Not to mention that I was fitting in my longest marathon training miles for the Richmond VA marathon which I'll be running this weekend.  Not making any excuses for myself, but just trying to cut myself some slack for having been so totally and completely absent.  

I've already started my first non-Halloween or gift related project.  It might get finish by the end of the week.  But it might not.  I don't have any expectations anymore.  


October = Closed Out.  Done.
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