Archive for the 'Sewing' Category

Something Wicked

Posted by laura on Nov 08 2009 | Holiday, Making, Sewing

Sorry to leave you all hanging there with the Halloween business. What happened with the fish? Was itfinished? (Ouch. That was for you, Kevin.) Well yes. We made it. Of course I don’t have very good photos, but here they are:


I messed up the proportions a bit in the back and made it a tad too long, but frankly it’s a bit of a miracle that it has any resemblance to a fish at all, so I shouldn’t pick at it. You know those test questions where you had to look at a 2D image and pick which 3D shape it would make? Those weren’t exactly my strong suit. So pattern making is a bit of a stretch for me. I’ve been attempting to sew for years now, and every time I take pattern pieces and stitch them together correctly, I get a thrill. (WOW! Look what that made!! I can’t believe it!) The fish was cozy and comfortable and Hot Wheels was happy with it, so it’s all good. Here’s our wood fairy:


Fortunately this was a very basic setup – we bought two fallish sprays of fake plants from the fabric store and hot glued them to a pair of old brown pants and a tunic stitched up from a curtain remnant. My kind of sewing! She wanted an acorn bag and elfy shoes, so I used scraps from the American Indian princess outfit from the second grade. Hands down, my favorite part of any fairy/princess outfit is the headgear. This one was made from a ring of brown fuzzy pussy-willow-like stuff, twirled with this super thin bronze colored wire. The wire had the quality of a line drawing in her hair – I love that. If I were a jewelry designer, I think I’d just make crowns and tiaras all day.

On Halloween night we had an amazing chili dinner with our lovely neighbors. The girls were a cupcake and a queen.


I don’t do kids’ faces here, so you’ll have to imagine how insanely lovely they were. Didn’t Joan do an incredible job with these costumes? That cupcake just turned out magnificently, from the felt flower decoration to the perfectly pleated wrapper. Fantastic. Too bad they had to walk around with these clowns…


Tom made himself into a cool jelly fish, using an old shower curtain, some balloons and a string of lights – he was a big hit. I decided to go with gothick this year – basically a goth outfit with a lot of bugs thrown in. Hard to see here, but I hot glued spiders and other plastic bugs onto hairpins and put them through my hair, and just used false eyelash glue for the ants. It was so much fun – I think my favorite part was cutting up the t shirt and stockings with patterns. Even Hot Wheels thought that was cool.

The whole goth look was a blast, but man! what a lot of work. I practically needed a brillo pad to get that lipstick off. Yoikes. And it had the unintended consequence of completely freaking one of my young neighbors out – when we went over for dinner she just had to leave me for a while because it was all so horribly wrong. Fortunately, she came around and we had a great night.

In other good news, after a loooonnnnngggg week, Honey is finally looking and feeling more like herself again. Turns out that when you take Motrin for a long time it does a serious number on your stomach. But it looks like we’re out of the (knock on) woods – her mouth is back to mild discomfort and she’s much, much happier. It’s fantastic!!! Here’s to a great weekend, everybody!

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Something Fishy

Posted by laura on Oct 27 2009 | Holiday, Making, Sewing

This is the post in which we attempt to return to our usual programming. Honey was back at school today, although she called to have us bring her medicine at lunchtime. Hot Wheels stayed home but is feeling much better. Tom is starting to look sideways at me, which for once is actually a good thing. With everyone attempting normalcy, it was time for me to start panicking about Halloween.

Halloween is technically four days away, but in reality it’s only three, since the school costume parade is on Friday. Honey wants to be a wood sprite, which I’m not particularly worried about since I have bags of green and brown fabrics and sprites are not known for their tailoring. We could throw that one together the day before. In fact, I’m sure we will. Now Hot Wheels is a different story. He wants to be “a fissy.” Not just any fissy, mind you. THIS fissy:


Say hello to Bubbles. I’m actually very fond of this guy.


Yeah, I’m talkin about you.

Anyway… I’ve never made a fish costume before and I have to say I didn’t exactly excel at that portion of the SAT where you had to picture what 3 dimensional shape would be made from what 2 dimensional drawing, which regrettably goes for the reverse as well. I’ve been in deep denial on this costume – look how much I’d done up till this morning:


Pretty smart looking, eh?? So today I faced the music and started cutting and sewing. Please think positive thoughts towards this fish, and if you have detailed diagrams that’d be great too.


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Out With the Old

Posted by laura on Jul 05 2009 | Making, Sewing

The fabric stash around here just keeps growing when I’m not looking, so last week I fired up the old sewing machine.

First up: stacks of old t shirts not good enough to give away but too good to turn into rags. Something had to be done. Turns out there is a great skirt pattern over at craftstylish that’s easy and fun to make. I am 100% for clothing I can whip up in about a half an hour, and this skirt has the added benefit being super soft and comfortable.

Result: A small dent in the fabric collection, and Honey and I each ended up with new skirts before teatime!


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Birthdays and Bikes

Posted by laura on Oct 08 2008 | Bicycle, Fun, Holiday, Sewing


Someone in my house is now eight.


It might be a good moment to note that the day after this certain person was born, she received a letter from my dear brother, in which he promised that when she was eight, she could indeed have a pony. Thanks for that, Joe! 

Her birthday morning was wonderful and filled with amazing treats from all around the globe. Such a lucky girl. Josephina was a lucky girl today too – look what she got!


Oh yeah. Hampton in the house. Mum found this while we were all on vacation this summer, and I’d completely forgotten about it. It was a HUGE hit.

I made Josephina a little dress out of some scraps from the fabric bin. (Fabric going out instead of in! It’s a miracle!)



Here’s a look at the hem, which took me too long because I didn’t gather the ribbon at all and the hem flipped up so I had to tack it down all the way around on the inside. 


Today is also International Walk To School Day, which is a little more like walkbikescooterandskateboard day when you get right down to it. Whatever you call it, it’s great. We loved seeing all the riders on the bike path this morning.








What a morning!

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Disco Neck

Posted by laura on Aug 18 2008 | Holiday, Making, Sewing

Saturday night we went to an old-school kegger that was actually a fundraiser for HotWheel’s preschool. The idea came from an elementary school here in town that throws one each year as their fall fundraiser. Everyone wears a college sweatshirt and it’s some serious fun, particularly for people like me who went to art school and skipped that whole part of the college experience. Some of these people know (or at least remember!) how to party

This year I was smart and skipped the speed quarters (so out of my league) but I was on a winning boat race team. I thought we didn’t stand a chance, seeing as there were three teams – East Coast, Midwest and West Coast. Midwest?! These are Michigan people and I was sure it would be a rout. But noooooo, East Coast all the way, baby. In retrospect, I realize we won because we were started and anchored by BC alums.

The best part of the night is the dancing, though. It was great – and now we’re all suffering from disco neck, as our friends Amy and Andy put it. Fortunately Sunday was freezing and foggy here, so it was a great excuse to stay in and be cozy and recuperate.

I’m making a child/doll pajama set for a friend of ours who is in the hospital, and I’m hoping to finish them up this week.

How can it possibly be the last week before school starts again?! It’s wrong on so many levels. We’re going to make the most of it, though and play like mad. My kids already have the Monopoly board set up on the dining room table, so I’d better get a move on. My daughter is turning into quite the real estate magnate – I’ve got keep my eye on that girl.


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More bags

Posted by laura on Aug 12 2008 | Reusable, Sewing


Been whipping up felt bags for all our little gifties. They’re just so fast to make, and I love that they’re reusable. Lately I’ve been sewing an extra strip of felt along the top and cutting a small handle out of the base layer below – the top layer gives a little extra support and structure. 

Another method that’s worked really well in the past is to cut a couple of branches, about a half inch in diameter, and use them for handles. Just sew a couple of felt loops at the top of the bag to hold them in (I found that it really helps to stitch around the ends of the branches so they can’t slip out.) It’s an incredibly easy solution that always looks nice – particularly with a bird or branchy silhouette stitched onto the bag.

These days, though, I seem to be leaving them till the very last minute and as you can see, the decorations are pretty minimal. Maybe next time I’ll try to get fancy… ha! That sounds like it would involve some advance thought. Better not.


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Gift wallet

Posted by laura on Jun 04 2008 | Reusable, Sewing

Sometimes the end of term/year teacher gifts can be tricky. One of the teachers we were appreciating this past week is just about to go back to school for her MBA and some friends and I decided that the last thing she needed was a mug. (Ok just kidding there – NO teacher needs a mug. Let’s just be clear about that.) We figured she’s looking at a lot of ramen noodles in her future, so we thought the best gift would be cash. Yes it’s impersonal, but it’s a happy day when you’re young and you get unexpected money. To make it a bit more thoughtful, I figured I’d sew up a little wallet for it.


I’m crazy about this material (leftover from pajamas), and the bag was a snap to make. It’s lined with some pale pink raw silk (leftover from a dress) and uses a bit of green yarn (leftover from a baby hat) that wraps around a button.


This couldn’t be any simpler, and yet I still managed to make 2 mistakes while I was doing it. Doh. The beauty of making small things, though, is that they don’t take long to fix!! 

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Reusable Wrapping

Posted by laura on Feb 04 2008 | Reusable, Sewing

I’m pretty bad at throwing things away, so I have bins of old fabric scraps and clothes waiting to be turned into new and useful items. Problem is, I keep adding to the stash without doing any major damage in terms of using it up. This Christmas I finally started to make good on my plan to use some of the fabric stash to make reusable gift wrappers.
handmade reusable bagSo this one uses the pocket from the nicest old pair of mens’ pants – soft but strong and a perfect brown. There’s something nice about having some wrappers that aren’t overly seasonal or specific to one occasion. Also – pants pockets are fantastic for gift bags, since the pocket is a great detail and a perfect place to slide in a gift card or a part of the present. 

handmade reusable gift bagThis little bird bag used to be a sweater. Now it’s a cross between a gift bag and a purse – a small branch makes a nice handle. No fancy sewing here, but I was hoping to make a few bags that were just a little out of the ’sack’ family of cloth gift bags. (Not that I’m above sacks, as you’ll soon see.)   
handmade reusable gift bag.jpg Here’s the bird again, with a t shirt wrap. This one isn’t a bag – I just stitched up a rectangle out of the neckline and torso of a toddler-size t shirt and added a flap along the inside back of the collar. You fill the wrapping from the neck of the shirt and tuck the flap over the contents, inside the neckline.The tag just gets wrapped around the flower.

handmade reusable gift bag
These wintery bags are made from leftover costume material. The top one is also more of a parcel – it has a velcro closure up the back. Note the sack underneath! Very handy for large format picture books or those odd shaped gifts. Like an armadillo.
The next wrapper that I’ve gotten into is little wallet-sized ones for gift cards. I like to work off the colors of the gift card, but I hope that won’t mean they’ll be harder to reuse. Here’s one from this week -
reusable gift card walletreusable gift card wallet
Just a simple felt wallet with a felt applique on the front.I really should have lined the inside of the front to hide my sloppy stitching, but I ran out of time. I think it does the trick, though.
This scrappy sewing is really fun. It’s great to use up clothes that have tears or stains and can’t be given away. I love picking through the bins, looking for just the right shade or material. Storage is always an issue, though. Our ‘art’ room doesn’t have a closet, so I need to figure out some built-in or standing storage option. The blue plastic tubs are just not doing it for me somehow.
One of my favorite storage solutions is featured in a Living magazine spread on Martha’s workroom. Somehow her scrap fabric is all really nice and square and flat and easy to look through. I think mine needs a good talking to.
At least I can have most of it in one room – that’s a real luxury. We’ve consolidated most of the art supplies into one area and it’s heaven just rummaging around for scraps of paper or ribbon or cloth or that perfect pen  in one room instead of all over the house and the garage. Now I just have to find a way to make it look a little nicer!

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