I wrote about my new favorite pattern, Amy Butler’s Barcelona skirt, at the Coats & Clark Sewing Secrets blog this week. This is a really joyful sewing project and it was fun to share some tips for making a simplified one-layer version of this pretty skirt, perfect for spring. I also love Flea Market Fancy and was so happy to sew my seventh Barcelona in the green leaf print!
Pearl’s skirt is Anna Maria Horner’s lovely Mind’s Eye print in violet (from Field Study). She loves it so much. It’s one of the half-yard skirts I have been super addicted to sewing.
We’re back to lots of rain and tights weather this week, but my garden sure is happy. We have tons and tons of greens, and lots of sugar snap peas too (I need to reinforce that trellis with sturdy twine and little stakes, but with two curious kids in the mix, nothing stays where I last put it and the enticing roll of twine walked off some time ago. But the peas don’t care). I added a new herb garden mini-annex a few weeks ago that I love. I was walking into New Seasons, got my head turned by this collection of Drunken Botanist herb sets (grown in Oregon!), and bought two – Southern Belle’s Whiskey Garden and Mixologist’s Simple Syrups. Looking forward to trying some new things for cocktails and cooking. I want to get her book, too…
I’m still getting used to the new flickr but yielded to its pushy demand for a bigger, “better” profile picture. I already miss the little teeny 2005 thumbnail of me with my knitted pig phone cozy – I love that thing even if it is now a lo-res artifact. Oh well, I am now 2013 me over there.
I’ve spent the last week cleaning and organizing my craft room and wow, it has been a ton of work! Last year was so busy and it felt like every minute of my childcare time was spoken for twice over. So I sewed until the last minute and rushed to pick my kids up from school instead of having time to put things away, and my stuff got cluttered, crowded, and disorganized. I couldn’t see a lot of my fabric or find a lot of my supplies without moving things around… and we all know it’s not fun when you have an idea in your head and you JUST WANT THE RIGHT FABRIC NOW.
So, three or four long days later, I am so much happier and inspired working in there, and I’ve gotten to sew some new things for the house! My favorite project so far is my beautiful new ironing board cover – made from a Vera vintage sheet using this tutorial from Sew Much Good. My old plain-blue cover looked awful and crummy (I couldn’t bring myself to take a before photo, ugh) and this one is so pretty and simple and feels so right in my sewing room. It makes me happy every time I look over at it. Yay!
This is my 2013 craft sketchbook/journal from Ex Libris Anonymous. I LOVE it. I staple fabric swatches or pin paper patterns right to the pages and record all my notes and measurements and extras in there. It’s really nice for projects like this – when I used a great tutorial but made some of my own tweaks that I want to remember.
Here’s what I did differently: I cut my Vera sheet using my ironing board as a pattern the same way that Sew Much Good recommends, but then backed it with fusible batting for padding and sturdiness. The sheet was very filmy and needed some structure. That worked perfectly. Then, instead of 1/4″, I used 3/8″ flat elastic (which is what I had on hand) and instead of cutting and folding my own bias tape, I used hem facing (the flat 2″ wide bias tape you can buy at the fabric store). I needed about a package and a half. This was super easy to thread through, and a very sturdy casing.
The only other thing I did differently was to stitch the bias channel on about 1/3 of the way around, then backstitch and take it off the machine entirely (instead of pulling the elastic while it was still on the sewing machine). I pulled the elastic so it gathered nicely, then double-pinned it in place there. I sewed to the 2/3 point, repeated the same gathering method and double-pinned, and finished with a third round at the end point. Then I eased the cover over the ironing board, took out all the pins, adjusted the elastic gathering so it was nice and even all the way around, and tied a good knot to secure it. Done!
This was a super fun, fast project and I’m especially happy I could make it all with things I already had (the vintage sheet, fusible batting, hem facing, and elastic). I love the sheet, but it cost $3 at a thrift store and was a full size, measuring something like 80″ by 90″ – so when the cover inevitably gets spilled on or fused to, I can let it go without grieving that I ruined something precious or expensive. Plus, I still have a ton left, even after finishing this large-scale project and lining the reversible rainbow dress I made for Pearl for Halloween. I’m glad that these blue flowers can live on in some other sewing projects.
I hope your 2013 crafts have been fun so far! This has been a good stretch of house projects for me and I’m so grateful to have the time to work on them. I just finished sewing a couple of super simple tablecloths and cloth napkins, worked my way through most of my mending pile (FINALLY), and I’m working on some new Pendleton curtains, too.
This spring has kind of brought a bit of everything at once – rainy, then sunny, then rainy again… crazy busy, then blissed out on vacation, then back to the laptop… sewing, cooking, gardening, a long-awaited new fence, birthdays, and bagels! I have a lot of catching up to do, so I wanted to share some of my May favorites (so far).
The first Friday of the month, I took an amazing class from my friend Heather and learned how to make homemade bagels – such a great morning. I wasn’t sure I could duplicate her magic and skill at home, but sure enough, my first two dozen bagels (half sesame, half plain) following her recipe and tips turned out pretty perfect. I’m in love. Thank you, Heather!!
Then, my sweet Pearl turned four (!) so I just had to drop everything else and make her a birthday skirt. I fell in love with an apron at a vintage store in Silverton last month, and cut it up to make the cutest little skirt for her. She’s a big girl now who won’t wear anything except exactly what she wants to, so I kind of held my breath while she opened the new tote bag I sewed her to see what was inside…
but she loved it and put it right on for her birthday party and beyond. Happiness! I also got to make my favorite cupcakes (with purple frosting, by request) and a “triple berry cake” (aka blueberry boy bait + raspberries + marionberries). The girl loves her sweets, and you only turn four once.
I forgot to get a first-day shot of planting my garden this spring, but this is about three or four weeks in (I started later than usual, after an epically rainy March). Everything is loving it so far – from left to right, it’s spinach, mustard greens, dinosaur kale, white russian kale, and chard. I have beets and leeks in a smaller bed and I’m hoping to put in my tomatoes soon too, then summer squash a little later on. Tucked behind all the greens, which you can’t really see, I finally took my herbs out of all their random-sized containers and dug them into a real garden bed. I also rescued my little blueberry bushes and pomegranate from the relentless grass invasion all that rain brought, and we have about two dozen tiny Bartlett pears nestled in on our tree! I’m pretty excited… almost five years into living in our house, I feel like my yard is finally becoming what I hoped for, after a lot of baby steps forward (most recently, a birthday sandbox and a new fence!). We have flowers, native plants, and succulents planted on one side of the house, and herbs, berries, and the vegetable garden on the other.
We went away with the kids for a very needed long weekend to Mt. Hood on Wednesday and stayed at the sweetest cabin. Such a beautiful place, right on a creek, with a hammock and a hot tub and green everywhere you looked.
Along with lots of easy 18-month-old-friendly hikes, splashing in the Columbia River, skipping stones in the creek, and getting an ice cream cone in Hood River, we headed up to Timberline Lodge for a grilled cheese (Pearl and Everett) and a glass of wine (me and Andrew) and spent half an hour gazing out the window at this view. The photo above is just a regular old iPhone snapshot, no editing or anything.
This second one is a Hipstamatic from the same spot. (I find it totally impossible to stop taking photos of Mt. Hood.) Bonus – I just learned from Merritt that those amazing cloud formations we were admiring, gracefully skirting the summit, are called lenticular!
I bought this dreamy little succulent dish garden with two teeny cairns and a few seashells mixed in at the Saturday Market in Hood River. So beautiful! I wish the vendor (Rose) had a card so I could credit her, but she said she was just getting started and this was her first event ever…
Midway through our idyllic getaway was a really awesome May PMQG meeting I drove back for. I am so excited that Nancy finished quilting my Oceanside quilt and I got to share it at show and tell! She did a really cool all-over quilting pattern of waves with three whales here and there – a small, medium, and big one. I love whales so much and this was just perfect.
If anyone is interested in the process, I’m hoping to write up a longer post about how I made Oceanside… and it will be at Sisters so I’m very excited about that!
Hopefully I’ll have a side-by-side photo of the quilt with the Oceanside sign that inspired it to share soon too…
I recently got a review copy of Brett Bara‘s fabulous new book, Sewing in a Straight Line, and I’m a huge fan! Brett shares 28 projects to make, from skirts and handbags to quilts and home projects – but the twist is that they’re all made by sewing beginner-friendly straight lines only. She uses very clever techniques to shape those simple seams and hems into stylish finished pieces you’ll love.
For my first SIASL project, I decided to make a set of Brett’s beautiful Folded Flower Bowls in the small and medium sizes. (Update: Brett has a video showing how to make these, too!) I loved the wholecloth versions in the book, but thought it would be really fun to try them with a simple quilt block instead of a plain fabric square. I’ve been saving the jelly roll that Monica Solario-Snow kindly gave me of her lovely, colorful Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric collection for something special… and this turned out to be the perfect (little) project for them.
I stitched a few strips together and pressed and top-stitched them, then paired them with a solid color for the other side of the bowl. Using Brett’s clear, nicely illustrated instructions, I backed the two sides with interfacing, sewed and turned them, and transformed them from flat squares to smoothly shaped three-dimensional rounds with a few well-placed seams!
I used Decor Bond for my heavy-weight interfacing, which gives the bowls a nice body and definition, but I had a hard time keeping the fabric from showing ripples and crinkles once it had been turned and folded a few times. A tiny iron (I borrowed this one from Amy after misplacing the cord of mine!) and steaming the inside of the bowl worked really well for shaping and smoothing the fabrics. I definitely recommend this trick!
I really like the small size (which starts with a 6.5″ square). Here it is in patchwork and plain versions.
These are the two bowls I made to keep – cross-hatches in a small-scale Heath red and a bolder navy print by Lotta Jansdotter.
What about the other two bowls? Well, I’ll be giving them away, along with a copy of Brett’s book, at the February PMQG meeting! Heather, Petra, Nancy, Ale and I are going to be posting new sewing and quilting book reviews on our blogs every month, and then giving away copies of the books at the monthly meetings. I’m up first, so here is mine!
And our own Michelle Freedman will be doing an improvisational patchwork demo for our 10-minute tutorial (these 2 photos are from her super fun improv demo/game at our All Day Sew on Saturday).
Thank you to Potter Craft for the book, and to Monica for the beautiful fabric. I’m excited to share them! Along with the book and patchwork bowls, we have some very special prizes to give away… hope to see you there, Thursday, February 16 from 7-9 at PNCA!
My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and Andrew surprised me with this huge vintage science-lab bottle so I can make a mega-terrarium bottle garden! Happiness!
I love it so much. Michelle and I headed over to Artemisia and I picked up some tiny, pretty plants that will hopefully slip through the narrow bottleneck. (I also got to go to Pambiche, the park, Bar Avignon, and Ringside. It was a pretty good birthday!)
Way back in the freewheeling crafty 70s, my parents made a bottle garden for my grandparents in a giant green-glass solvent bottle from my grandfather’s physics lab, and I loved it. I’ve always dreamed about making one myself. Approximately three million tiny, small and medium terrariums later, here I am, trying to figure out how the heck to pull it off – my mom says it’s pretty challenging! Luckily, I have some allies in the form of fabulous vintage craft books…
This is from The Family Creative Workshop (Volume 2: Beachcombing to Bottle Gardens). Love this whole series so much. (I snapped photos of all the pages in the whole Bottle Gardens entry that are here in my flickr set if you want to see them.)
I also have a copy of Sunset’s Gifts You Can Make. I really wish more vintage craft books had color photos, but this is a fantastic book, and I’m so happy that they included bottle gardens as an idea for presents.
If you’re looking for either of these books, here’s what the covers look like… in glorious color!
Andrew found the bottle here, on Division in Southeast Portland. I asked the owner how often he sees these giant bottles, and he said they’re pretty rare, but this is the place I’d keep an eye on if you want one too. Would love to add some other giant-bottle sources if you have any!
My other birthday gift from Andrew was this beautiful Oregon myrtlewood cutting board, made by Coast Range Woodworks on Etsy. It’s really awesome too.
So, hopefully my next bottle garden post will be lots of photos of a beautiful miniature world of lush plants… or maybe just a list of what not to do when it comes to plants and bottlenecks. Either way, I have a hardware-store shopping list ready to go and I hope I can get started on it this week!
Also coming up – just wanted to mention that I’m teaching a scrap projects class at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store this Saturday from 2-4! We will be making two projects, a sunglasses case and a patchwork draft snake, and all the materials are included for $25. PMQG members get $5 off any class at Pendleton, too…
PS: Thanks to everyone who came to our January meeting last week! Petra wrote up a lovely meeting recap over here at the PMQG blog. We are so excited to do some fun things this year… we have an all-day sew coming up at Fabric Depot on February 4 (9am-8pm) and we’ll be announcing some good surprises for the February meeting soon, too!
Happy New Year! I hope that your 2012 has been a good one so far. I just made a collage of my craft projects from last year and wanted to share it over here…
Lots of sewing! I think my favorite things I made are my denim wrap skirt, Everett’s birthday banner, and the plaid Pendleton blanket for my mother-in-law. I also love my Denyse Schmidt improvisational blocks, and I hope that I’ll actually get to piece them into a bed quilt in 2012. If you’re looking for truly spectacular finished quilt projects, check out people’s mosaics and posts on the Modern Quilt Guild FB page. (All of my quilting time went to Quilts for Quake Survivors, so my contributions were all just parts of a beautiful whole, so no finished quilts to show this year – I’m ok with it!)
Speaking of Quilts for Quake Survivors, I wanted to post an update over here, too. We are winding the project down this week after donating 30 quilts to survivors of the earthquake in Japan (March and April) and raising $2825 and counting for Mercy Corps’ relief work (May-now). A HUGE thank-you to everyone who has donated fabric, pieced blocks, joined or sashed quilt tops, sewed backs, basted, quilted, tied or bound quilts with us. We are so grateful for your beautiful work!
If you are interested, please go to our page on the Mercy Corps website and donate $150 (shipping is on us). You can donate to ANY cause you’d like the money to go to, not just Japan. Just state your preferred cause in the subject line. Mercy Corps will distribute the funds according to your specifications on their back end. Then you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the donation confirmation number and the number of the quilt and your shipping address. We will send you a confirmation email and ship the quilt within 48 hours via USPS. Also – if you’ve already donated $150 or more for end of year giving, you can send us the donor number and we’ll gladly send you a quilt as a thank-you.
After this week, we’ll donate any remaining quilts to Bradley-Angle House, a shelter here in Portland, for the women and children there. Thank you to everyone who has supported QfQ!!
I have a few more little things to share soon… like my favorite new hot chocolate recipe, and the finished 25-minute book and toy totes for Pearl and Everett (which were a huge hit on Christmas morning!). I’ll see you when I have a chance to upload some more photos!
Thank you to everyone who liked the two draft snakes I made this fall and asked for a tutorial – here you go! You can totally personalize yours as you like, I wrote up a couple of variations to try. I made one single-layer patchwork draft snake pieced from varying lengths of orange and blue wool fabric for our back door (which is pretty flat/flush with the doorway),
and another double-layer one in all the same fabric to fit our vintage (1950) set-in front doorway. A single fitted draft snake just kept rolling away from the bottom of the door, so adding a longer base kept it sitting neatly in place.
Some basics: You can use any sturdy fabric you like for these. I got all my wool fabric at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store here in Portland, but you could also use home dec fabrics of any type or reclaimed denim.
I’d stay away from whites and light colors that might show dirt quickly. My bright colored one hasn’t had any problems, especially since wool is easy to brush clean, but the darker one seems totally stain-proof.
For this project, your basic formula is to start with a single or patchworked/pieced length of fabric that’s 7 inches x (the width of your door + 1 inch – so, you’d cut fabric 37″ wide to fit a 36″-wide door). And you’ll use a 1/2″ seam allowance throughout.
Here’s a super simple tutorial. I’m a low-fi type at heart, and ended up writing/drawing these steps on paper with a Sharpie instead of trying to do any kind of cool digital illustration. Hope you don’t mind…
Step 1: Cutting.
Patchwork variation… easy!
Step 2: Pin, sew, and stuff.
Step 3: Pin and hand-stitch up the open end.
Double draft snake variation!
Please let me know if you have any questions about the tutorial, and I would love to see your draft snake if you sew one. It’s gotten so cold around here, and I’m so glad to have these little guys guarding the front and back doors… seriously, in an hour or so, you’ll have a couple made and can finish the rest of your holiday crafting in cozy, non-drafty comfort! Or hey, you can stop by a friend’s house, casually measure the door, and make this as a surprise holiday gift.
One last thing: I’m teaching my Woolen Cross Pillow class at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store on Saturday, December 17 from 10am-12:30pm ($40 includes all materials, plus extra fabric to bring home for a 2nd pillow). Portland Modern Quilt Guild members now get $5 off any Woolen Mill Store class, plus 10% off any purchases at the shop, so be sure to show your PMQG card to get both discounts!
Michelle is also teaching some great classes at the WMS this Sunday, December 11 – Stuffed Penguin (11am-1pm, $25) and Wool Nesting Baskets (2-4pm, $40). Check out her post for photos and more details!
I can’t believe my baby boy is one today! It seems like the time went so fast, like it can’t possibly have been a year, and then again like I’ve known him all my life. October vanished in the rearview mirror very quickly, but I’m so glad I found some time to make Everett some fun things for his first birthday this week, before my sweet November 8th deadline rolled around.
I cut out, appliqued, and stitched up his name pennant the other day with some of my favorite quilting cottons,
and hung it up in the rec room for a super chill little baby party on Sunday.
I also made a nice long string of blue, orange, and white wool pennants for him (using scraps in four colors and white 1″ binding from the Woolen Mill Store). Love how these turned out.
(Oh, and I used that precious extra hour on Sunday to replace the gnarly old wicker rec room curtains with some new ones in a Beach Boys plaid, also from the WMS – a one-yard cut was just enough to stitch up all three sets! You can see them in a couple of the snapshots above… trust me, you don’t need a before photo. Now that we have nice ones, I can’t believe we lived with the crummy old ones the last 4 years. Ugh.)
And my favorite first-birthday craft ever is the 1 shirt + bib. I made a cute set for Pearl’s first birthday in 2009 with one of my precious Flea Market Fancy fabrics,
So of course my little man needed a set of his own too.
These two match a favorite hand-me-down pair of pants I sewed for Pearl (the 18m size of my beloved Burda 9772 pattern – the fabric is Ride ‘Em Cowboy by Robert Kaufman, which I found in Joseph, Oregon two years ago).
I made him some vanilla cupcakes, and of course in the whirlwind of the day didn’t get any pictures of them. They looked just like the ones I made for Pearl’s first birthday, with a blue star candle + sugar sprinkles, but minus the pearl button cupcake toppers this time.
It was a fun afternoon and a victorious first cupcake for my sweet little boy! One happy side effect was that I had to re-organize and clean my craft room pre-party on the fly, since it’s right around the corner from the rec room, and it was in embarrassingly sad shape. Like the old curtains, I skipped the before photo, but it was cluttered with fabric, notions, and random stuff, and not at all inviting for sewing. Here’s what it looks like now – I still have some work to do, but I polished those three sets of cafe curtains off in less than an hour on Sunday morning on that nice clean worktable.
It’s so nice to be able to find everything again!
But after the weekend of fun (including the party, the awesome BUST DIY Guide to Life book event, and half-price tickets to Oklahoma! with Michelle), I have lost my voice and most of my energy has gone with it. So I will be back soon with a new craft book giveaway and some other fun things!
I recently got my contributor copy of the fabulous BUST DIY Guide to Life and I love it! Flipping through all 350 pages has been a treat – it’s basically 15 years’ worth of the magazine‘s awesomeness in one gorgeous place.
Debbie Stoller (whose birthday is today – happy birthday Debbie!) and Laurie Henzel have rounded up hundreds of how-tos from contributors and editors alike and organized them into hefty chapters like “BUST-ier Homes and Gardens” and “Your Style, Your Way.” Along with craft projects of just about every kind, there are dozens (hundreds?) of recipes to try, plus tutorials on tuning up a bike, buying a house, polishing a resume, and just about anything else you might want to to figure out how to do. Here are a few of my favorites…
I’m so happy that two of my articles for BUST made it into the book, too! I wrote “Chains of Love” in 2005, I remember making those three necklaces in our apartment in LA. I was so excited to see it on the page!
And I wrote “Get it Together,” a quick organizing guide, within a year or so of that one too. I could do worse than take my own advice when it comes to my craft room these days…
This Saturday afternoon, Debbie and Laurie will be at Powell’s here in downtown Portland for a signing and party – I would love to see you over there! Powell’s has a nice display of the book (sorry, the photo is blurry – Everett was in the carrier and really wanted to help) if you want to flip through and see some of the awesomeness for yourself.
The BUST DIY Guide to Life signing with Debbie Stoller and Laurie Henzel!
Powell’s, 1005 W. Burnside St. in Portland
Saturday, November 5 at 2:00