Monday, June 30, 2008

paisley dresses

More dresses for the girls. That they really don't need. I just can't stop myself.

This time the dolls got some new clothes as well.

The doll pattern I drafted myself using the girls' dresses as a guide. (Very easy - there's only one piece that's cut on the fold and used for both the front and back.) Fabric was $1/yd clearance stuff at Joann's. The trim is vintage bias from the stash. I used every bit of the two packages I had.

The photo is washed out from the sun so it's difficult to see, but the bias tape was also used to hem the dress as well as trim the top and make the ties. With any luck I'll have a tutorial up soon on how I did that.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

the kids - eating mussels

All three of them tried a new food tonight.


Chip and Norma - We were at Thurston's!
(Yes, Trixie injured herself. Again. Our first night on the road she started jumping on the bed. Before we could stop her, the edge of the nightstand did. It's not too bad, she just won't leave it alone - hence the big bandaid.)

the kids - sand beach

Spent time at Acadia National Park today.

The water is VERY cold.

Our resident rock hound.

She can sit like this forever. Hurts my knees to look at it.

Trixie's tootsies.

The vacation slide show will be over on Monday if you came to see crafting.

Friday, June 27, 2008

the knife guy

I love that we live in a place where someone like this man still comes around once a year to sharpen knives. Last year I was lucky enough to hear the bells of his cart when I was home and caught him when he reached our block. Some summers I've missed him entirely. This year we spotted him while walking about 10 blocks from home. Not only did we run over and ask when he'd be by our house, but I got on my cell phone to let a friend know that he was mere blocks from her home and to get her knives ready for him. (This same friend has been known to drive around with her kitchen knives looking for him, so in the interest of her safety, a heads up call was in order.)

I imagine if he was in blackbird's neighborhood, she'd be good friends with him by now. About all I know is he does wonders for my sewing scissors. (One year he asked Chris, "Your wife, she sew?" when Chris handed him about 5 pairs of shears. When Chris nodded he was told, "You lucky man, not too many women do the sewing these days". So we also know he's a smart man.)

The paper ran a story on him last year. Someone had stolen his van. His cart was inside. Unfortunately, it was never found. This cart is a new one. Still works as well as the old one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


The only thing better than finding a huge bag of vintage laces is not having to hunt for it myself. My mom brought this home from her vacation for me. The picture doesn't really show how much was in there. Some is good only for cutting, but there are other decent sized pieces that have more possibilities.

I love this spider web design. I think of Halloween when I see it.

Some great trims.

I like the idea of using it in something artsy (read: not on clothing for the girls). Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Did you see this bag at Target? I love it. Don't have much use for a plain tote without pockets though, since I tend to use them as purses as much as tote bags. My stuff gets all mixed up and I can't find a thing.

It's easy enough to add a lining with pockets though. (I swear this is just regular lining fabric and doesn't burn your retinas in real life. I think it was too sunny when I took the picture.)

I just used the bag's dimensions to make a lining the same size. Then I folded down the top edge and slipped it inside. It was pinned in place just below the hem of the bag's top edge. I used an edgestitching foot to sew the lining in place. (Grey thread in my needle and white in the bobbin.)On the outside it simply looks like another row of topstitching.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

can you spot the tourist?

If all goes as planned, this project should post as we drive to Maine.

This tote is my little homage to the state I love. The pattern is from Purses, Bags and Totes by Cindy Taylor Oates(the model is an apple basket rather than blueberries). I used fusible fleece to quilt it instead of batting because it was faster. The quilting lines follow the vertical lines on the basketweave fabric.

I can't really bring myself to use it as a purse, so it's filled with paper, crayons and games for the kids when we're eating out this next week.

I have a little backlog of projects that I'm hoping will post while I do touristy things, so stop back in this week, there'll be plenty to see while I'm gone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

the kids - zoo camp edition

I know I'm putting the kid pictures up on a weekday rather than my usual weekend posting, but it's been crazy around here. Getting ready for vacation while Chris was away for the weekend on a 175 mile charity bike ride. Posting was low on the list of priorities.

Last week was zoo camp. Or as the kids say it ZOO CAMP!!!

End of the day reunion.

It's tradition for Basia to come see the kids on the last day of camp. This year she brought her cousin, Geri. (Can you see how tired Glenn is at the end of the week?)

And I'd like a purse in this pattern please...

End of the week ride on the carousel with Roseann's girls.

Back to crafting tomorrow.

Friday, June 20, 2008

patchwork aprons

I finished a project that has been in my sewing room for months. It got started this past winter at a serger workshop. We serged charm pack squares together to form patchwork fabric. Once there was enough for the main body, a coordinate was added for the pocket and the shape was cut out. I didn't care so much for the patterns the shop had on hand. Mine was simply cut by laying an old Williams Sonoma apron over the top and following the curves.

Once most of mine was done, I realized I had a ton of charm squares left. Matching daughter aprons were in order. Bias tape to finishes them off. In keeping with my goal of whittling down the stash (or at least using some of what I have so I can justify buying more), the trim is pretty narrow because it was the only size I had handy.

I love how neatly the serger finished off the back. Not sure how I lived without it for so long.

The pocket is finished off pretty cool as well. The seam on the botttom is hidden inside the pocket. Hard to explain in words, but you put the pocket right side facing the wrong side of the apron body when you sew the seam. Then flip it to the front. (It's easier to try it with a few pieces of fabric to see how it works.) You can see the seam hidden in the bottom of the pocket here.

I suppose the girls will be wanting to cook something now.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

retro grocery sacks

When Blackbird came to visit a few months back, she brought some fun, reusable grocery sacks that she'd spiffed up with her own style. It's just now occurring to me that I should have taken pictures of those to show my inspiration for what follows.

In any case, my mother-in-law(Basia) liked them and we decided to cover up the nasty Jewel - Osco logo on hers.

I used white felt and some fabric from the stash. It's a fun, novelty print that I bought and realized I had no idea what to make with it other than an apron. So it sat for quite a bit.

I cut out a few motifs, zig-zagged them to the felt(which was cut to size with pinking shears) and then sewed the felt to the bag with a straight stitch.

Now Basia'll be the hippest lady in the check out line.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

rebekah's quilt square

Here's my first quilt square for the Common Threads virtual quilting bee. This one is Rebekah's.

I used all three fabrics she sent, but one stood out to me. The red background with black mushrooms seemed to scream for a little embellishment. I cut the piece so the part used in the upper left had the detail print and the lower right corner had only the black mushroom shapes. After sketching a bit on paper, I came up with something I thought was the same style as the print and embroidered details in red perle cotton floss.

Since a lot of time would be spent on the embroidery I needed to keep the rest of the design simple. Based on the inspiration quilts that Rebekah provided us, I went with something "wonky" and geometric. I have to agree with all the other Common Threads quilters who have said that wonky isn't easy. I was so worried that I'd mess up the wonky part and run out of fabric that I drew it first, cut out the shapes and pinned them for a pattern. I think that may have been first time jitters too. Seems I'm not the only one of us afraid to cut into the fabric when it arrives.

All in all though, this was a lot of fun. I got to work with fabric that I don't have in my stash, try out a few new ideas and stretch myself a bit. In fact, I was so excited when I'd finished the square that I mailed it off without taking pictures and had to send a semifrantic e-mail to Rebekah asking her to take a photo for me. Thanks, Rebekah! Hope you like it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

the yard - phase one

This is the year. Every year we say, "next year we're going to fix the lawn". And every year another season passes us by. But not this time. The electricity went out in the garage last fall and the only way to fix the problem was to run a new line out there. That meant a trench was dug through the lawn. (I use the term "lawn" loosely because our lawn was really a small patch of clover and creeping charlie with a few blades of grass trying desperately to claim some ground.)

Replacing the grass in the area that was trenched became a good reason to get off our bums and get moving.

Phase one - kill off all the nasty stuff.

While I wait, I'm enjoying a few new plants. As much as I think I want a cottage type garden I'm drawn to more exotic things at the garden center. These are asiatic lilies. I believe this one is 'tiny ghost'.

And for Poppy, a poppy that just bloomed. Good thing I took a picture, because the recent storms have blown off all the petals.

The landscapers have since come and removed the dead stuff, added new mulch and seeded. Today we noticed a green hue out there! More pictures as things progress.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

the kids

Crazy hair day at school. (Yes, we're finally out for the summer as of last Thursday.)

I'm aware that this is all kinds of wrong, but she begged for a wig for crazy hair day. All we could find was a Hanna Montana wig - she's never seen the show, but knows who she is. I'm happy to report that she didn't keep it on very long (Mom, it's too hot!) and I didn't pay much for it.

This one of Trixie is a few months old, but you know, equal time. I was told the boots went with the tutu because they are both pink.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

reverse applique

Oh look, another tee shirt for Ellie. (I promise there won't be many more - I'm about done with her summer wardrobe.)

I decided to try a new technique on this one - reverse applique. The applique fabric is attached underneath the tee shirt fabric and the tee shirt is cut away after it's sewn in place.

I cut out a large circle of floral fabric first and serged the edges. It was held in place during sewing with some temporary basting spray. The applique shape was drawn with water soluble marker on the front of the tee. I wanted the stitching to really stand out, so I chose a stitch on my machine that goes over each stitch three times. It meant sewing very slowly to be sure when turning around curves, I was doing so after a stitch was completed. (It took a while before I stopped counting 1,2,3 in my head over and over again.) The last step was VERY carefully cutting away the excess tee shirt fabric from the center of the design.

I was hoping the knit fabric would roll up a bit more. Perhaps with successive washings.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

waste canvas embroidery

More clothes for Ellie. The skirt is an absolute favorite of hers. It was a gift from a friend and I've been told it's perfect for twirling. I've been meaning to make a shirt to go with it for ages, but hadn't found something that was just right. Then I found the linen embroidery floss by DMC. There was a color that matched the skirt exactly. Hanging next to the threads was a little pamphlet with some cross stitch designs. The Queen Anne's Lace seemed perfect.

Waste canvas was used to get the design on a tee shirt. It's sold near the aida cloth in craft stores. If the design was going to take longer I would have basted the canvas to the shirt, but with just two colors, this was relatively fast, so I just pinned it. Once it's in place, you simply do the cross stitching as usual, making sure to place your needle in the tiny squares and not catch the waste canvas threads.

After stitching is complete, cut away the excess canvas. Then wet the waste canvas with a damp rag. This will loosen the glue that holds it together. Next, pull the threads out one by one. (This goes faster than it sounds.) If one seems to resist pulling, wet it more. If that doesn't work, carefully snip at it, it may have gotten caught in the stitching. You can see the tiny squares that you stitch into better in this photo. About half of the threads had been pulled at this stage.

Here's what it looked like after a round in the wash to remove any residue from wetting the canvas.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

the kids

Ellie's last gymnastics class for this session.

Just looking at this makes my wrists hurt.

A few pictures from the annual church picnic today.

The kids were playing with one of those giant parachutes.

Trixie got a little excited.

Friday, June 6, 2008

slumber party - part 2

More lounge pants from the In Stitches book. I can't remember if I posted these a while back when I made them as a sample for a class I was teaching. I just got around to doing the tee shirt to go with them.

The applique is a motif from the pants fabric. For those who care - here are the details. The motif is adhered to the tee with fusible web. I cut a little extra around the design to be hidden under the stitching. Some tear away stabilizer was placed underneath the tee (I keep it in place with temporary adhesive spray -like 505). The stitch is a zig zag in a narrow width and set to a density that's one notch tighter than a buttonhole stitch on my machine. If you can, ease up on your presser foot pressure(it will help prevent your teeshirt from shifting or rippling).

Oh, and sew very slowly around those curves.