Monday, September 29, 2008


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.")