Friday, December 12, 2008

Crafty gift exchange

Wednesday night, my friend organized a group of 10-12 crafty women and we had a most amazing gift exchange. It had to be handmade, and I was stymied by the unique and interesting gifts and the talents of my friends! Even my sister, who claims not to be very crafty, made a beautiful silk flower arrangement. (Um, when do *I* get one of those for my house?!) ;)

I used Amy Karol's "bend-the-rules" book and the pattern for the Charming Handbag, along with some Heather Bailey fabrics I had left over from the purse I made for myself. I was really happy with the way it turned out, and to top it off, instead of making a bow with the ribbon (on the side of the purse), I made a La Fleur Debris (I love that name!) from the mini pattern by Heather Bailey, and added that with a safety pin so it can be removed and used as a pin on a hat, scarf, sweater, etc. as well.

Happily, it was a hit with the person who received it, so I'm thrilled! I was extremely happy to come home with a plate of scrumptious lemon-raspberry cookies plus chocolate peanut butter balls. YUM. I had been craving Reese's Cups, so that was absolutely perfect. And I got the lovely snowflake platter, a small spatula (which I needed, as mine have all been confiscated by the cardboard kitchen) and the recipes to boot. What a blast!


Captain Kitty

I wanted to post a couple pics of Captain Kitty, the pirate cat. I hope my niece is still in love with her! Dig that backpack? ;)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Presents and presents and presents and ... presents!

Where did the last two weeks go?! Let's see ... prior to Thanksgiving, I made this adorable little purple fairy for a girl named Violet. I named her Iris, another purple name, and added little pink hearts on the back of her wings. She loves strawberries, just like Violet, so she took a little strawberry with her. Violet thought she was pretty sweet.

Now, my friend has my business cards and a banner all ready for me; I just need to get my Etsy site set up. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record; where is the time?! I've got so many things to make for Christmas that I think I'll have to set up after the holidays, not as I initially planned, but I'll get there someday. Last week, my time was spent being really sick with a horrid cold, which unfortunately, most of the family, including those visiting, came down with. I'm still coughing up lungs, I think.

Oh yes ... and I made this amazingly cool 14-inch pizza with olives, sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes. All in felt, with quilt batting for thickness. It's for my 4-year-old nephew for Christmas, but since my sister knows and he doesn't log in on his own, I can safely talk about it. It's really awesome, and boxed up in a Mangia Pizza box from right here in Austin. However ... I forgot to take pictures before sending it home with my mom, so photos will be after Christmas. Oops!

After that, what? I made a really cool ... um, wait ... can't talk about that until after next week. It's for a crafty gift exchange with friends next week. So, er, that will be posted later, too. That is the problem with making Christmas gifts. I spend my time making but can't show and tell yet!

Right ... I made a really cute pirate cat for my niece's 6th birthday, which is really this coming Monday. She has named her Captain Kitty, and if I ever get around to pulling pics off my camera, I'll put up photos of that, too. She rocks, with all of her skull fabrics, and a backpack, just like my niece. My brother said I scored major points with her on this one, and that makes me proud!

So there you have the last two weeks in summary ... lots of ideas, very few photos! I have a feeling that's the way it will be for the rest of the month, so my apologies in advance! Happy holidays to all of you jolly readers! :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Big brother, little brother

My brother's second son was born the first day of our vacation, so I'm playing catch-up. A huge welcome to baby Sam, and congrats to Max, newly knighted as a Big Brother. I made some boy monsters for them -- the Big Brother and the Lil Brother. Big Brother is made from some of hubby's old shorts, plus some bright and cheery flannel to make his pajama bottoms that he refuses to take off. He's got crazy monster hair, a huge red monster tongue, and his ribbon claws make it look almost like he's making obscene gestures, like a naughty little monster. (But he's not, he's a very good monster really, and will even protect Max if Bad Monsters sneak into his home.)

Lil Brother resembles his big brother, yet is not at all an exact duplicate of his brother. No way. He's got his own personality and though he may look to Big Brother for some guidance on the ways of the monster world, he is ready to jump in and take on challenges. He, too, has lots of ribbon claws, a wild monster tongue, and a couple of horns. Crazy, yes, but very snuggle-able!

Miss E loved them so much that I had to make her a monster of her own. She said, "Mommy, I don't have any monsters. You need to make me one right now." I did. His name is Zorba and I still need to take pictures of him.

Mermaids and cupcakes oh my

Post-vacation has been a bit of a blur for craft projects and sewing, and I've been sew busy (ha ha) that I haven't really blogged at all! But then, maybe no one is reading! So what was I up to, you ask? For starters, I had to make more baby gifts, this time for my friend Anita's shower last weekend. I didn't have a clue what to make, so the Sunday before, I started looking at fabrics and remembered the Heather Ross Mendocino collection I'd seen. Finally found a fat quarter bundle of very aqua and orange mermaid, fish and sea life fabrics from the collection, and got the fabric two days prior to the shower. Yipes!

I've been itching to make a rag quilt, so again, I dove into Etsy for some inspiration and found a baby quilt I loved. Yes, I used the layout and tag idea, but it's not for sale, so it's justifiable. They are so simple, so soft, and so perfect for a baby gift that I can't wait to make another one! And those fabrics are just the right match for my most swimmingest friend, who is decorating her baby girl's room in orange and blue with a sea life theme.

I also did a twist on my normal dolls, making this one a semi-swaddled mermaid girl. Her arms are free to paddle through the sea as she sleeps, and that makes her just the happiest little mermaid you've ever met. She's got some ribbons to play with and a few different fabrics, and Miss E gave her the thumbs-up. (As well as many hugs.)


In addition to the doll and quilt, I made the cupcakes for the shower, and the recipe I used rocked. It's from a book called simply "Cupcakes" that I found at Barnes & Noble on the bargain books aisle last spring. I made the white chocolate mud cakes, and the chocolate ginger cupcakes. Delicious, if I may say so, particularly with the addition of some rich buttercream frosting. Ah ... and yes, Miss E helped with the cupcakes. You bet. She and I had so much frosting the morning of the shower that I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into some salty chips and crunchy carrots!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Holiday preparation

Several people have asked about placing orders for the holidays ... if you are interested, please email me. I'll deal with orders one-on-one, but knowing ahead of time will help me with planning.

Contact me at plushalicious@gmail.com.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An art doll for Nana

My mother-in-law has this awesome art doll, handmade by a textile artist in Virginia. Last year, while Miss E was about, oh, 19 months old, Nana let Miss E play with Rita. We told her she was crazy, but hey, it's her only grandchild, so she was fine with it. Miss E talked about Rita forever, and as our trip to Arizona got closer and closer this year, she was very excited to go play with Rita. And that got me to thinking ...

Nana needed another art doll. No, actually, Rita needed a companion. And that's how Randi came into being. I worked on her in and around all the baby gifts, up until the day or two before we left for Arizona. So Randi is Rita's kid sister. She's just been through a nasty breakup and is done with men and relationships for a bit, and while she's on break, she decided it was as good a time as any to reconnect with her older sis. They haven't talked much for at least a decade, but they never hated each other. Just never really bonded. But where else is a girl to go when she's down and out and needs a friend? To her sister's, of course ... so Randi moved in with Rita, unannounced.

Rita seemed a bit shocked at first, but was glad to see her younger sib. After the first hour or so of acclimating, they hit it off quite well, and by the end of five days, they were the best of friends, as sisters should be. When we left, Rita had just told Randi that she was welcome to stay as long as she needed, and Randi said she'd take her up on that. She quite enjoyed the weather in the mountains of Arizona ...

So Randi is the basic doll pattern from the book "Toys to Sew", like some of the first ones I made for Miss E. I embroidered her winking face and was pleased that it came out exactly the way I envisioned it, which is not usually the way things go. Her dress is two Amy Butler prints with a nice ribbon sash, and her purse is a coordinating AB fabric. Her shoes were a lot more difficult than I expected, and I'd never do them in the right/recommended size again; I'd shrink the pattern like I did the dress. I did the doll at 212% and the dress at 176% (of what's in the book). I kept sewing around and around, trimming as I went, until they finally fit. I do love the ballet ribbon wraps -- it just fit for Randi!

And best of all was her hair -- a totally unexpected bit of perfection. I found the yarn at JoAnn, loved the colors that coordinated with the fabrics, and loved the chunky unevenness of it all. But I tried putting it on like the pattern said, and it didn't work at all because of the uneven texture and thick yarn. So I sewed each strand individually, and it was a piece of cake -- so much faster, so random, so perfect for this doll. I almost want to pull off Jessie's hair now and give her locks like this! The funniest part was that she was bald for so long (at least two weeks), that when I saw her with a full head of hair, I couldn't believe how different she looked. Proves what a good haircut can do, I suppose. And when I spun her around for a good first look, I laughed out loud, because I realized I'd given her hair that made her look so much like my friend Molly (High, Maw-LEE!) it was almost uncanny. No, she doesn't wear crazy makeup and wink all the time, but the hair, the hair, the HAIR -- it's so very, very Molly!

I'm not planning on making another art doll, though I suppose if the occasion arose, I would. But it was a fun experience, and I do love the final product. Miss E was so cute when she handed her over to Nana, and even cuter when she hugged and kissed both Randi and Rita farewell before we drove back to Texas.

I have to also mention the quilt that the ladies are sitting on. I think I got this right -- it's stitched by hand by either my mother-in-law's mother or her grandmother. It has the most gorgeous fabrics on it, including a few baby-themed prints. I couldn't believe the detail on this quilt and the fact that every single stitch on it is by hand! Oh, so very, very beautiful indeed!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nuther baby giftie

I had to miss my friend Michelle's baby shower today since we were at Maker Faire, but one of the many baby gifts I made last week was a very special one for her new baby girl, due around Thanksgiving. You see, she and her hubby have a special place in their hearts for a little hedgehog named Alpine, who unfortunately led a very short life. I found this awesome pink Japanese hedgehog fabric at Craft-O-Rama a couple of months ago, and though Miss E tried to claim it repeatedly, it was a no-brainer for this gift.

To top it off, I just happened to see a hedgehog softie tutorial a week or so ago, so the gift was exactly what I was looking for. I just love the baby hedgie that can pop into mama's pocket ... and the reversible pocket is just too clever. Instead of felt for spines, I used ribbons (hey, I was on a roll), so it came out as another lightweight, easy-to-grasp baby toy. I did make it a tad bigger than the one in the tutorial ... but you already know I can't follow any directions perfectly, without adding something. What can I say? Top it off with a hedgehog, pink flannel and minkee ribbon blankie, and my gift was ready to go.

My sis delivered it today ... Happy baby girl #2 to Michelle!

Maker Faire rocks!

I can't tell you how much fun we had in only three hours at Maker Faire last night and a little over three hours this afternoon. You just have to experience it yourself, and believe me, we will be back next year. Miss E loved the robot wars (though we only saw one and a fire-breating bot named Texas Heat who flamed marshmallows for audience participants), and her other fav was the Austin Bike Zoo "rides", though we only watched.

While Daddy checked out the geekier side of the exhibits (solar cars, robots and more), Miss E and I strolled the Bazaar Bizarre and met the nicest, coolest people on the planet.

Meet a few of our new friends:

  • Becka at Baby Bolt, with awesome baby goods, aprons, skirts, and crayon rolls (Miss E is loving hers!)
  • Julia of Pixie Worx!, who also told me about Art of Texas
  • Harrilu screenprinted AND eco-friendly t-shirts and more from Dallas
  • Trina, who sells patterns to make the most adorable purses from plastic bags
  • Etsy Texas Crafters ... how awesome!
  • Puppets and free puppet patterns from Lanese
  • Zen Bend, from Connecticutt,, who bends wire coat hangers into cool sculptures. He gave Miss E a butterfly, which she carried all night.
  • The folks from the Texas Juggling Society, who helped Miss E make her own juggling ball from balloons and rice. It's awesome, and if you couldn't guess, she chose pink and purple as the two colors. I didn't get their link for how-to, but here's a good tutorial.
  • ... and Ismael, the guy who carves peanuts -- really! Miss E got a peanut from him, with instructions to open it up and find the old man inside. He dresses like Gandalf, and she just thought he was awesome. Her peanut (yes, the tiny edible part) is now in a zippered bag in her bed, with the shells turned into two caterpillar friends.


Other fun finds or things we saw and loved:

  • Fab teeter totters from Faith at Flatfork Studio ... Erika got to try one out with her new friend Emily
  • Austin Bike Zoo has the most amazing bike decorations you've ever seen ... A sweet multi-bike peacock ride, a gigantic rattlesnake made of lots of bikes, a monarch butterfly bike, a red moth bike. You have to see to enjoy, and riding would be even cooler. Human-powered rides; can you get more fun than that?
  • We missed both of Rachel's monster demos in the Maker Shed, but at least got to stop by and say hi. Monsters rock!


Daddy went to several demos today and came home with a bag of goodies as well. It was absolutely the most fun I've ever had in one place, and as we were getting ready to leave, Miss E said, "Mommy, I love Maker Faire." And then she cried when we left ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

The purse

I have these moments when I just can't wait to sew. It drives me nuts to not be able to just attack a project at any given hour of the day or night. So, I woke the other morning and started a purse. I had the pattern from Sandi Henderson and a bunch of Heather Bailey Pop Garden fabrics sitting here, and though my sewing skills are not as awesome as my friend Gayle's, I did manage to create a lovely market bag. Lots of lessons learned here, but since I am forcing myself to overcome my fear of making things from real patterns, I was proud that I turned out a real purse.

I adapted the pockets to hold a pen, cell phone, and other stuff, instead of just being one huge pocket. And I added a key fob since I love having that on my purse right now, and that was simple to do. Don't ask about the magnetic snap. The dang thing didn't come with instructions, but I realized once the purse was finalized that I didn't install it correctly. Oh well. It will work for a while; then I'll just have to either rip the thing apart and fix it or live without it.

It's big, but it should be the right size to serve as a Mom Tote while on vacation! And when people ask if I made it myself, for once I can say "YES". (And then they will see the lame stitching and realize that my skills are still building. ;)

Baby Palooza

*whew* I did it. Starting last Friday, one week ago, I started cranking out baby gifts. The first was a set for my sister's sister-in-law, who is due to have twins in the not-too-distant future, so her shower is fast approaching. I needed to have that in my sister's hands before vacation, so I finally managed to bring my sketch to life. I had this idea a few weeks ago, sketched it out, and then had to wait until I had time. I was going nuts because I couldn't wait!

And ... I love them. I have dubbed them "Baby Beans"; the lil' bitty baby burritos. Don't even think of stealing my idea! Ha! ;) “lil’ bitty” because they are small. “beans” because they are human beans, as in the children's novel "The Borrowers" (Mary Norton). “burritos” because they are completely swaddled. How's that for a writeup on something so small that a three-month-old can hold it? I used a bunch of ribbons as hair and feet (yeah, I know they are swaddled, but use your imagination here!)

On top of that, I had recently seen some "loveys", so I extended my ribbon and bright colors theme to make some small blankets with ribbons as well. I did a patchwork of the coordinating Erin McMorris fabrics, along with pink flannel, and backed it with cream-colored minkee that has raised hearts. Too cute, really.

Then, somewhere in the middle of making all of that, I had to pause and make a burp cloth for Miss E to use for her dolls. I dug out an old (yes, used!) Gerber diaper, added a strip of flannel and some ribbons, and voila, a fancy burp cloth for my little mommy. It's not very impressive, but she likes it.

I forgot to photograph the other lovey I made to match the brown floral bib I made a while back and still haven't delivered, so maybe someday I'll post that. I have another lovey almost done that is four different squares (all four used on the twin beans) that I just need to add the ribbons to and sew the back on. I'll get to that after vacation. It was just for Miss E, who really doesn't need it, but still wanted one for her dolls. Oy. It's all about the dolls, isn't it?!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Works in progress

Sorry, y'all. I've been consumed by baby palooza; details to come. I finally finished up all of the baby shower and new baby gifts I needed to get done prior to vacation, so I'll be posting that in and around packing (don't peek if you think it might be for you!) ... and making a purse, which I hope to have done tomorrow. It's been nonstop crazy sewing around here, and Miss E has been awesome. We leave for vacation on Monday and this will be a busy weekend as we experience Maker Faire *and* finish packing ... yikes!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy tummy

Oh my ... I went looking for a new pumpkin muffin recipe this morning before Miss E was awake, and stopped on a blog I really enjoy: Baking Bites. I found a couple of muffin recipes that left me drooling, and on one page, there was a related link to ... Chai Oatmeal. That caught my attention. I just absolutely love chai (as much as I love my lattes), and we eat oatmeal about every other morning these days. Miss E loves chai, too. I love spicing up plain oatmeal with a variety of add-ins, but this one topped any of my own creations, so I had to share it: chai oatmeal with mango.

Her description alone had me, but once I got a bite of my own this morning, I was hooked. I think this is a new favorite. She really hit on it with the mix of chai spices and the mango. I added raisins (sorry, I always have to do something, don't I?), but other than that, followed it with my own size of dashes and half dashes of spices. Ah, you must check it out ...

Now, maybe after I finish a doll, clean the cat boxes, squeeze in a workout, and marinate some chicken, I might have time to make those muffins. Who am I kidding?!?!?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lollipops

Miss E is obsessed with Sandi Henderson and her children ("Mommy, I want to see Sandi's website. Can I see pictures of Eliza and Ethan?")*, and in the photos for ruffle pants, Eliza is holding two giant Whirly Pops -- those giant lollipops. Miss E wanted one, so I got to thinking, and while trying to fall asleep the other night, came up with a way to make one from felt. Kind of saves on the teeth ... and cuts back on the sugar!

I just used two felt circles, then cut a slightly smaller circle out of quilt batting and did a blanket stitch around the outside. I added a wooden popsicle stick, and then did a simple stitch in a spiral to give the effect of the rolled lollipop. It was an instant hit: "Just yike Eyi-juh's yoyyipop!" Cute ...

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*Just a side note: She's obsessed with babies, too. After a trip to JoAnn the other day, she came home and told me that one of her dolls was "the baby that was at JoAnn" and "I'm her mommy." They don't even need names anymore!

Short girl custom monster shoulder bag

My BFF's mom loved the monster tote so much that she requested a custom one for herself, so here it is, as a sneak preview for her. She's picking it up tomorrow. She opted for turquoise instead of orange (nice choice), with a messenger-style strap and cell phone pocket. I couldn't find the turquoise felt on the bolt, so I made the strap black to match the cell pocket. To pimp it up a bit, I added some colorful shapes on the straps and used a fancier method of attaching it to the bag. There's one more fun little surprise for her, but I'm not tellin' yet, MomBoo. You'll have to wait to see it for yourself! ;)

The monster is nearly identical to the one on Miss B's orange tote, but the antenna on this one spirals in the opposite direction. This one is definitely a better sewing job, and my embroidery is improving, too. Such fun!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Totes!

A purse is what got me back into the sewing game, and I finally made my first tote on Saturday. Saturday was actually a very good crafting day because I not only finished Fiona the cat, but I also finished up a doll that's been sitting here for three weeks. Initially, I couldn't get her eyes right, so I set her aside. Then I just got side-tracked. She's intended to be a twin, but I'll work on her sibling in a couple of weeks. They're earmarked to be sold, hint, hint. She turned out great, but I'll do photos some other time.

I've been wanting to make a tote for Miss E for Halloween, and a week or so ago (has it really been longer?!), we got supplies at JoAnn. Found a cute glittery pumpkin fabric on the remnant table, plus some felt, and had all the ideas, just no time. On Saturday evening, I cranked out the first 80% of the tote; it was that simple, as promised! (I LOVE the Amy Karol book. Have I said that enough?) Last night, post-birthday party, I sewed the handles and top in place, turned it right side out and smiled. I did somehow twist the handles so they don't lay right, but for a pint-sized trick-or-treater, it's not an issue, really. Overall, I'm just thrilled b/c it WAS so simple ... Now, when my Sandi Henderson pattern gets here, I'll have to try out my hand at a REAL purse. For me. Mama wants more purses! (Just a side note, I'm going crazy over Sandi's patterns and want ALL of them. Isn't that the most gorgeous cupcake you've ever laid eyes on?! I got the ruffle pants pattern for Miss E, too.)

So today, needing more crafting time to iron out my mental wrinkles, I did a second tote, this one as a surprise for Miss E's BFF, the girl who loves monsters. Miss E and I were at Target on Sunday morning and the dollar bins are loaded with monster stuff right now. I came home with an armload of books for inspiration, and the monster on this tote was the result of the inspiration.

I got to practice more embroidery, too, which was fun. Check out the detail of the monster face. I should probably have done a bit more hand sewing on the legs, since they got a bit wonky, but I like the way I finish off her toenails. ;) My machine sewing was definitely not my best work, but it gave me a chance to practice something like this, and I doubt that Miss B will notice the mistakes. Let's see ... this has french knots, backstitch, chain stitch ... I think that's it. Cute, though! I can't wait to give it to her!

Fiona, the fancy cat

Another birthday, another doll! This time, I finally got a cat made. I've been scheming but haven't made one 'til now, but since we are such a cat family, I thought I'd give this a try. I used three of those lovely Erin McMorris fabrics, and I'm still drooling over how beautiful they are together. I plan to do plenty more dolls from them!

Fiona was made for a 4-year-old who doesn't have any pets, which Miss E doesn't seem to comprehend. A house without pets?! No way! ;) We know the birthday girl loves dolls, though, so hopefully she'll like a doll who is a very fancy cat. (Who also happens to love shopping.) I rounded her out with a purse that she can use to tote her BFF, Goldie the Fish. (Um, Goldie loves to shop too. Out of water!)

I have finally figured out how to close these dolls up and sew on the legs w/o as much hassle, though this one about drove me nuts. I did two seams along the bottom, catching the legs, turned hem and missing the tail ... only to find I hated the way she looked. I ripped it all out and started over. I think I just had too much stuffing and hadn't turned up enough of a hem, so next doll, we'll see if I'm right. I learned early on that an over-stuffed doll is not nearly so huggable, so the softer, the better.

I'm not sold on the tail ... We may opt for a manx next time (like Patchy!) or I may skip the stuffing and just do a flannel interfacing. Each doll is a new adventure!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

There's a ZLOCK behind the clock!

Going farther in the crafty department, yet straying from the works already in progress, I allowed whim to take over on Thursday. Miss E woke up that morning saying, "I want the Wocket book." So, we pulled Dr. Seuss' "There's A Wocket in My Pocket" off the shelf, and it went around with her to the bathroom, to breakfast, and into the doll stroller to be pushed around the house. We were reading it (finally), and I stupidly said, "Hey, we could make a zlock." Oh boy ... departing from planned activities for the day ... warning ... warning ... Because whenever you say that to a toddler, it means Right Now. Oops.

"Yeah, Mommy. We should make a zlock right now!" she shrieked. "Let's go upstairs and make it right now!"

So, it got started. Then we ate lunch. She napped. I worked like mad to get the zlock finished. I used some of my new embroidery skills to make the face (eyes and mouth) sans felt. (You can't embroider a nose like that ...) I like the face, and I'm happy to say that with some instruction and practice, my skills are improving. (Thanks, Rachel!!!)

Friday morning I stitched up the zlock, and by naptime, I had her (yes, we voted that the first zlock should be a girl, though Miss E thinks we should have a whole family) nearly done. One leg to go. Miss E woke up, and at first mention of zlock, she bounced out of bed and raced upstairs to see her. I sewed the final leg on and she was so excited about "Zlockie", as she has named her. We did a quick photo session and then took her to dinner, where Zlockie had to hide in my purse while we ate.

For those of you reading this with that puzzled look on your face, I suggest you go find a copy of the book in your local library or bookstore and read it. It's awesome. You'll find lots of funny things in all the nooks and crannies of your house. Watch for that bofa on the sofa, though ... We love the zelf on the shelf, and of course, the zlock behind the clock. Who couldn't love a zlock?!

Maybe the next one will be tiny, but now I need to get back on track with all the upcoming gifts I need to make ... and a handful of items reserved to sell. Yes, folks, I really am gearing up to sell a few and hopefully fund my fabric obsession. Woo hoo!

New cupcake

I got a bit more crafty post-dress and made a fabric and felt cupcake. I wanted to try making one that used fabric to see how that worked for a cupcake wrapper, and I rather like it. It's about three inches in diameter, fitting perfectly into two little hands. The frosting on top of the chocolate cupcake is also fabric, in a flower shape, sprinkled with embroidered, uh, sprinkles. I added a nice dollop of frosting on top, with some french knots for anchors and additional sprinkles. (I asked Miss E if that was frosting or a berry, and she said, "Duh, Mommy. That's frosting. Yummy!")

Whaddya think? Is it too much like a pincushion, or cool enough for a child's tea party? Feedback would be great! All of the others I've made have been 100% felt.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Daddy can be crafty, too

I found this awesome pattern for a cardboard kitchen on Etsy several months ago, and we've been holding onto the heavy-duty cardboard from Miss E's playhouse, slide, and picnic table since she turned two in March. My BFF neighbor also bought the pattern, as did another friend. My friend spent long hours measuring and cutting the cardboard, and finally gave up in frustration; it was not her thing. She handed over the cardboard one day and bought a used kitchen for her son off craigslist.

Last Sunday, my BFF next door called to see if they could pick up the cardboard "in an hour or two" because her hubby was ready to work on it. We only wanted to trace a few pieces of the already-cut stuff because we were planning on making some mods so we had more shelving. We already have a play sink, so we didn't need that side of it. (See link above for full pattern.) So, my DH pulled out the cardboard and started working before I even had cinnamon biscuits on the table for brunch (I promise it was more than just delicious biscuits!) He was pumped and before I knew it, he had a pile of cardboard ready to glue together. We was very proud of his cutting, particularly after he had replaced the blade on the utility knife. (Men do enjoy things like this.)

Miss E pranced around after her nap singing the song from Elmo's World a couple of months back: "Building things. Building things. Building building things ..." (Sung to "Jingle Bells" for those who don't have the privilege of watching Elmo's World." I handed over my tiny glue gun and a package of 12-yr-old glue sticks, and he started in. (Mind you, no word from next door after six hours or more ... hee hee.) I went grocery shopping alone; Miss E had to watch Daddy work. I came home and she shrieked, "Mommy, look, my kitchen!" It was nearly done, but I forced DH to take a break for some BBQ from Whole Foods (oh man, it was awesome, and a good deal for a family meal, too). Just before bedtime, Miss E's cardboard kitchen was fully assembled (minus a handle on the oven), and she was cookin' away.

Monday after work, DH took Miss E to Home Depot while I was at the gym, and the handle was installed after dinner. It looks so dang cool, it's sturdy, and she just loves her kitchen. The oven door is ingenious! What a fab idea. Now, like the play stove/table we made a few months back, it's up to me to add some flourishes. I need to put on some "burners", but I don't think we'll paint it at all because we all like the brown cardboard look. Best of all? When she outgrows it or it's falling apart, we just toss it out with the recycling. Awesome!

So the mods from the pattern ended up just being that he did one side of the kitchen in the original pattern, but made it 20 inches wide so it holds a bit more and fits between the play sink and the bookshelf. And the challenge is on to the neighbor BFFs: where is your kitchen? ;)

(I'll try to add more pics later so you can see the oven.)

That damn dress

Last week, I finally opened and prepped the pattern for a very EASY sundress for Miss E. I've had this adorable cartoon cat fabric for a couple of months, found the purrfect trim fabric, and sat on it while I did dolls instead. I was pumped. I got it all cut out in no time but the minute I started trying to follow the "very simple" instructions (yeah, right), I realized the problem with a $3 or $4 pattern. The illustrations are awful, showing only a little of the overall piece you're working on, and the written instructions are bleak. There's one partial sentence that covers about eight steps, and it's up to you to figure it out. That's not a challenge I enjoyed, so I slugged it out for about four days until The.Damn.Dress was finished. I about screamed when Miss E stated she did NOT like it and would not wear it ... but that faded away and the next day, she was elated to show it to my sister and refused to take it off on Tuesday.

I admit, it's adorable. You should see it on her, but I neglected to get a photo the whole day she wore it ... She had on red knit pants under it and a puffy-sleeved, short-sleeve brown t-shirt. She smiled ear-to-ear. :) Anyhow, the armholes are not right, but I never could figure out what I was supposed to do from the instructions, so I had to kind of wing it. Fortunately, it manages to lay well enough that you don't really notice, and it's not so bunged that she whines about lumpiness. The pockets are cool; I did learn to do a tuck on a pocket, and I can see using that for an apron sometime. And the ties on the top are a funky teardrop shape on the end, and that may come in handy.

I'm not sure if I'll ever try *this* pattern again, but I am happy with the final result. It just killed my creative mojo for a full week ...

Before the dress, I whipped out an adorable baby bib in just an hour, and that got me all fired up. Now I know I can make these for all of our friends' new babies -- yippee! (I also had to fix the tension on my sewing machine the week prior, so seeing these pretty little stitches made me so very happy. That was quite a lesson in patience.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mirabelle, the garden fairy

I'm about a week behind in posting pics and the story on Mirabelle. She's the second of the tiny garden fairies, all in greens and browns. Her little butterfly wings have a zigzag stitch around the edge and will fray gently over time. She's even got a tiny flower in her hair to match the flowers on her dress! Initially, I had to wait to make sure she got to my mom before I posted anything.

My grandma died a little less than three weeks ago, and I wanted to do something for my mom, who is 1200 miles away. Gram moved in with them two years ago, at age 93, after living alone for years. We celebrated her 95th this past June, and had a wonderful visit with her. Unfortunately, she fell a few weeks later and never fully recovered from hip surgery, medication, and trauma. Mom and Dad spent nearly two months driving to and from the hospital and nursing home to check up on her, and it was a stressful time. Since I couldn't be there, I had to do something, and lying in bed one night, I came up with Mirabelle.

Mirabelle, like Miss E, loves all green and leafy veggies ... and chocolate, of course. What girl doesn't love chocolate?! She is full of hugs because we loaded her up before shipping her off to Mom. (Reports say she flew out of the box and delivered hugs immediately.) It sounds like she'll be hovering around the kitchen now, watching the birds and flowers out the window and passing on a bit of sunshine whenever it's cloudy.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Inspiration from Mother Nature


I just had to share a couple photos of our beautiful night-blooming cereus buds. We've gotten about one bloom per year for the past three summers, but this year, we had a bloom in August (which, dang it, I missed) and now twin blooms this past week. They are the most fragrant blossoms I've ever experienced, and only open up around 11pm. By morning, they are closing (or, in this case, were completely closed by 7am). Aren't they lovely?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New fabric to love

I found yet another fabric line I'm in love with, and I just ordered 8 fat quarters for dolls. It's a FreeSpirit line from designer Erin McMorris called Park Slope -- so cute! It's very whimsical and bright, and I just love the purples and oranges together. The teal, too! I'm already designing dolls in my head using this stuff; I can't wait to get it in the mailbox ... woo hoo! We have a couple swatches from this line that Miss E has in her stash, but it will be fabulous to spread out some bigger pieces and match them up.

The official link doesn't really do the fabric justice, so also check out fabricworm on Etsy, where I got mine. She has some excellent bundles of Park Slope, showing how awesome they look together. I love her logo, too ...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Trudy the Owl

Poor Trudy ... She sat in pieces for at least a week, being assembled in and around other projects. She's a very long-legged owl, inspired by the multitude of owls I've seen lately. Miss E has a new fall shirt with an owl embroidered on it, new PJs with a mama and baby owl duo (I must make some like them!), and owls everywhere I look. We saw two in the latest Pottery Barn Kids catalog and I couldn't take it anymore; I had to make one for myself! I tried a few new techniques and combinations, making her quite the glitzy little lady. She has some pink rick-rack, pink pom-poms (excellent for helping toddlers fiddle to sleep), a cute pink flannel fabric we found in the remnant bin at Jo-Ann. The ears are a bit off kilter; I was studying an owl in the bird book today and have lots more ideas. However, they, too, provide a great tool for toddlers who love to twiddle as they fall asleep ... and Miss E is delighted with her. She has lugged her to several stores already, and made sure that she and Aunt Hooty went for a stroller ride together right away.

I also tried out some embroidery, but I think I have a long way to go. Cheap(er) floss is definitely NOT a good way to go, I've learned. And I was going to rip out the French knots on her, but Miss E said she wanted to keep them. Not sure they really add anything to the pattern, but they are a nice texture, I guess, for those who are into that. (Said toddler being one of "them.")

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Monster Pirate

Happy Birthday, Mr. Tickle ...
Happy Birthday, Mr. Tickle ...
Happy Birthday, Mr. Tickle ...
Happy Birthday to you!

Yup, it's Mr. Tickle's official birthday, so he had better open his gift. If he sneaks a peak on the web as his mommy is looking, well, too bad. So happy #4, Mr. Tickle!

Okay, he really does rock the boat, doesn't he? Meet Monster Pirate. Ready to battle any mischievous monsters that lurk under beds, in closets, and down dark hallways. This guy will save the day. Rough, tough and ... made for snuggling.

Best part? He has a mini me in his back pocket. Just in case there are any itty bitty monsters lurking in really SMALL places. Send in the little dude and he can expunge the minis.

Let's see ... what's there to love about this duo? For starters, that Alexander Henry Baddanna fabric (both the red and the black) just screams angry pirate, but in a kid-friendly-enough way. Even Miss E loves it. And the charcoal skulls (also AH fabric) were a must-have. Mix that with some black polka-dots and you've got a great start.

I was satisfied with his pirate pants, but they are definitely not my best work. In fact, until he was fully done, I was ready to discard them! I had to mish-mash a vest together; regular vest patterns don't fit a flat monster. I doubled the fabric for the front part so that the skulls were always present, even when flapping in the breeze. He does look awesome without clothes, and that's good because even the craziest monsters prefer to be nekked sometimes.

His belt and sword are a monster pirate necessity, with or without his pants. Lucky for him, the sword (in felt) slides quickly in and out of the belt due to a nice ribbon loop.

Oh, and the teeth! I've seen a few other monsters running around with great fangs, and I had to try it. With some random, crazed sewing, they don't look half bad. (Don't consult a dentist for a second opinion!)

Ah, and for grins, I made Mr. Tickle a matching baddanna of his own, so he and Monster Pirate and Mini Monster Pirate can all coordinate while battling evil monsters. Cool, huh? ;)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fairy

Miss E has this really cute growth chart behind the door in her bedroom, and every time I look at it, I want to smile. It has three adorable little fairies on it, and each has a pretty floral dress and gingham wings. I've been wanting to create little plushies like them, so last night, I took an hour or two to get one started and then finished her up this evening.

As prototypes go, there are things I'll do differently next time, but I think the pattern is a keeper. I started with the pattern I've been using for the dolls like Chloe, reduced it 60%, tweaked the hair (next will have longer hair) and added some butterfly wings. Wings were a bit of a challenge, so Miss E has the first one to play with. I decided to leave them to fray, much like the bits and pieces of fabric on the front of her dress. The wings are made from muslin and lined with flannel, making them incredibly soft yet stiff enough to stand out. Her dress has a little collar and pockets (sorry, fake) to match her sleeves; the last little bits of that gorgeous Amy Butler Gothic Rose. (I really might have to get more. Love it.)

I practiced my embroidery on the face, and it's not half bad. I'm signed up for an embroidery class in early October (yippee!), hoping to improve my doll faces. I've got at least 20 faces sketched out to try as I go, but Miss E loves the sleepy smiley look on this little fairy. She makes me smile just looking at her.

She's tiny -- maybe 7 or 8 inches, head to toe, at most. I should measure her, but she's currently sleeping in Miss E's arms, so that is not possible. Turns out, she and Chloe are BFFs, and both are being hugged tonight. I wasn't sure how the small size would be for a toddler, but she seems to just adore the tiny size, so it's a hit! I like the size because it's easy for her to carry around, and small enough that I can stash her in my purse if Miss E gets tired of carrying her. I was toying with the idea of calling them Pocket Fairies, but haven't researched to see if anyone else has those already. She's a bit too big for a pocket, really, but so dang cute! I'm ready to make more! :)

Snuggle Bunny

We had a last-minute kind of surprise baby shower for a friend today, so I put together a gender-neutral bunny for the upcoming baby. Yup -- they're waiting to find out if it's a boy or girl, so no cute girlie flowers and pink. And no trucks. Fabric shopping in town was challenging, but I finally found a really cute primary-colored flannel that ended up working perfectly with the red polka dot I already had.

We call it (him? her? not tellin' yet) Snuggle Bunny, cuz this bunny is super soft and super snuggly. I used felt for the eyes and nose, added a big red heart, and if you flip the bunny, you'll find a big, red felt tail sewn on the back. Just right for a tiny one to play with.

Big Sis will be getting something in October when the baby is born ... Maybe a mini bunny? We'll see when the time comes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

but I can't ...

Oh, I so badly want to show off my latest creation. He is awesome. Really awesome. But ... he's a birthday gift, and just got put in the mail. Birthday is this weekend ... So, not to give it away in case of snooping almost-4-year-old eyes, I will wait.

He was hard to send away. Miss E gave him a big hug and a farewell kiss. We sealed him up in a plastic bag for protection and took him to the post office.

This weekend, I can reveal. There were moments where I was frustrated, worried, afraid he just wouldn't come out as I wanted. I guess that's what you get when you dive in without a pattern, only a loose sketch, but when all was said and done and I put all of his accessories on for a photo session, he looked spectacular.

Of course, I can nit-pick and say that I need to work on my seams, embroidery, and maybe pattern placement, but I prefer to say he was a fantastic learning experience, and I know this particular dude will receive lots of love from Miss E's cousin.

And now that he's done, I wanna make a girl version, perhaps a doll, using the same fabrics. Miss E has another cousin who would totally dig a doll (or yeah, a monster; she's not all into dolls like Miss E) like this.

Grr. Argh. Grrrrrr. Arrrrgggghhhh. I probably shoulda labeled the box like that, but that mighta scared the mailman ... Heh!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Holy guacamole, Batman!

Central Texans, check this out ... Maker Faire 2008. Not your normal craft show, no. It's a crafty showcase of amazing things, and even my engineer husband is excited. He may enjoy it more than me, but I doubt it. Check it out ... read more under Participate | Call for Makers, and read about the 2007 show (link is on the home page at the bottom of the screen, in case you missed it). Rock on!

I mentioned this at a party over the weekend, and several friends had heard of it but no one had been ... yet. Get yer tix and join us! Heck, it's the weekend before our anniversary, so what better way to celebrate 4 years than with a geek meets crafter fair?! Miss E should love it, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh deer

Oh my ... how adorable. Miss E and I went shopping yesterday, and though she didn't really *need* a new t-shirt, I couldn't resist this one. It's just too cute. I'm going to have to use it to create either a little felt or fabric deer, perhaps even with a bit of embroidery. I am eager to practice embroidery, so maybe something like this is in my future ... But isn't it just the cutest?! And she LOVES deer, so it's quite appropriate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Next birthday doll

It's hard when you don't name a doll, but then, it's hard to name a doll that is for someone else. Therefore, this one will be Birthday Girl for this post. I am very happy with the results. I drew a different head shape for this one, and it seems to hold up much better than the other two. She also has "puppy ears" as Miss E calls them ... A classic toddler 'do, just like the girl I made her for.

Instead of a cupcake, Birthday Girl has her favorite kitty in her purse. I tried flannel first, with whiskers of floss, but Miss E vetoed it. Well, until the next kitty was done and the first was given to her. Suddenly, it was the coolest kitty EVER. I think both are cute, but the second attempt worked out far better, and I love the flowers. Her back has a big pink poppy on it, and I gave her a solid base (that probably should have had cardboard in it so she sat up more). The first kitty got a little pink felt tail; the second has a slightly-stuffed tail. It's a little high up, which can throw her off balance, but then she's meant to be carried around in her bag, so that is okay.

I played with some of the embroidery options on the sewing machine this time, but when the doll is slightly stuffed, it makes embroidery a bit trickier, so the "scrunchies" in Birthday Girl's hair are not as elaborate or even as I'd hoped. Overall, though, I like the effect and I'll have to try that again. I love the "puppy ears" ... She's such a cutie!