Friday, December 31, 2010

Lessons Learned 2010 and Plans for 2011

This has become an occasional blog.  I read another blogger write (in a BlogFrog Forum) that making apologies for not blogging on your blog is a no-no.

But I was doing some backing up and noticed how very many times I sign off a post with a promise to blog something soon, without coming through on that promise.  I am a free spirit, and my muse is as well, so I have learned it is better to go with the flow than to make too many rigid plans for what to make and when!  I am going to try not to tell in advance what is upcoming here so that I do not disappoint anyone if things don't go as planned.

A huge reason I haven't blogged so many things I have made, is because of my (lack of) photography skills.  I made many things for my first craft show, and also for gifts this year, and also garments as well, that I did not blog because my photos are awful.

(McCall's 5987.  Super easy to sew, and inexpensive if made from fleece, you can make this coat in under 2 hours.  This was the first coat I made, and despite how it looks in this photo, it is NOT pink at all!  I made a red one for mom but forgot to take a photo of that one.  I would like to sew another, in navy...maybe there will be a better post on that coat!

Here is the even easier easy jacket from Chic and Simple Sewing.  The contrast on this "print" isn't as strong as it looks here.  But I am still thinking of overdying this in another blue):

I have learned I know little about taking photos, and I plan to remedy this in 2011.  I know 3 skilled photographers in real life, and I plan to ask for their help.  In the meantime, I may show some awful photos of some awesome easy things for you to make.

Baby Color Book, front and back covers, made for a boy.
And here are the front and back covers of one I made for a girl:

I took these pictures in such a hurry that I forgot to tie the bows.  I know that this is my problem with photography- not having the patience to slow down and take lots of time on each shot.  I tend to move quickly and so photography skills do not come natural for me.

I started this blog to learn.  I have learned an incredible lot, especially regarding SEO.  I found out that writing on the computer can put me into that same productive state of "flow" that makes me love sewing.  I have also discovered that this is an easy way to make money, and unlike sewing, writing leaves no mess to clean up!  Because I am accepting other writing assignments, I have not had time to allocate for blogging.  Here's an example I can share, a piece I wrote for Yahoo! movies about the costumes in Tron: Legacy.  I have several more pieces upcoming at Yahoo movies.  I am also working on my first book, and I hope to have positive news on that to share in 2011.

So I am likely to continue being an occasional blogger.  But this blog will continue.  I will try not to make any promises for what is upcoming, but instead post what and when I can.  I will say I have noticed there is more sewing than growing here (at least in regards to plants, vegetables, and food), and I would like to post more of that.  I suspect this blog will always be mostly about sewing, however!

Closing with another bad picture of a GOOD thing.   I have been cleaning and tidying up loose ends yesterday and today.   I feel so happy to be closing out the year with a cleaned sewing room (and bedroom, closets, and house).  I am spending the rest of this afternoon finishing unfinished projects, like that flowered nightgown, which turned out too big and needs work before I will wear it.

2010 was an amazing year.  Thank you to all my bloggy friends who helped make it so sweet.  I hope 2011 will be an even better year for everyone.  Happy New Year!

(and Happy Sewing, always).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Awesome Christmas Album to Download

Ya'll, I am so sorry that I have been too busy to blog!  I had a lot more posts I wanted to make before the holidays, but they will have to wait until next year.  I hope no one minds.

I also hope everyone is having a happy holiday season.  We just put our tree up today!  We always put it up on Thanksgiving night, but this year we waited, because I didn't want to have to fight with my toddler.  He was amazed and mesmerized when we brought out the decorations today, and so far so good with him and the tree.

We have been enjoying the Christmas Spirit so much today and this was definitely helped by our new Christmas album, which has gone round and round in our cd player all day.  It's the soundtrack from a Charlie Brown Christmas, and it is SO GOOD!

You can download it right now from Amazon, and I really recommend you do so.  This will be one of our favorite holiday albums for years, and I bet it will be one of yours, too.

Merry Christmas! and Happy Sewing!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

More Ideas for Easy Gifts to Sew

How is your holiday sewing coming along?

Even though I started in July, it looks like I will be finishing things up at the last minute yet again.  I have lots more gifts I still want to make!

Here are links to articles just published with ideas for more last-minute gifts to make:

Handkerchiefs are a great gift for your brother (or anyone else) 

Easy Gift to Make Your Husband (or another special guy)
 Trick out his sofa!

Great Gift to Make for Grandma 

Easy Gift to Sew for Your Kid-  roll-ups

Come back here soon for more ideas and some ideas for holiday wear for you and your kids.
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ideas for Easy Gifts to Sew for Everyone on your list

If you are looking for ideas for gifts to sew, you will find lots of ideas in my sidebar here.

Please also read my article at Yahoo, Easy Gifts to Sew for Everyone.  There are more ideas there, as well as a very important link...if you do not yet know about the handmade holidays series that has been running all November for the past four years at SewMamaSew, then you will absolutely want to visit the link at the bottom of that article for scores of amazing gift ideas.

I am excited that yahoo just sent me an email to let me know that I have been accepted as a featured crafting contributor at Associated Content, so there will soon be many more crafting articles written by me on that site. I will still be sharing lots of ideas here, too, of course.  Here is the link to my contributor page  at Associated Content.  You can subscribe and be emailed whenever my new articles are published, and I would very much appreciate your readership there as well as here!

I am uber busy preparing for my first ever arts and craft booth at a local country Christmas fair this weekend, but I have a new tutorial for a sweet upcycled kid gift that should be posted here very soon, as well as other ideas to share.

In the meantime, Happy Sewing!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here's Another Easy To Sew (Reversible) Apron

I showed ya'll some fat quarter aprons already, and now want to show you a full version.  I like this free pattern at Michael Miller fabrics, for the Classic Reversible Apron.  I made a couple as gifts last year and I recently sewed another 3 up quickly as a batch.  This pattern is super simple easy to sew.  I made these:

Mr. Green thinks I should have used a different fabric on the reverse of this:

But I had 3 full yards of this plue plaid, and it definitely matches.  I was thinking maybe the Mister could wear it this side out if he was cooking breakfast.  lol  I like the blue plaid!

Mr. Green LOVES this sweet peppers print apron

and I love the green on the reverse

I wish I had a lot more of that green fabric!  I made the straps for this one with the green, to save enough fabric from the sweet peppers yard to make a market bag, too.  Mr. Green wants this one, because we grow all these colored bells in our garden (and eat them most every night), and because this one is much better than the hot peppers one I sewed for him last year:

I don't really like the pocket on this one, that is one reason I omitted the pockets on these three I have made so far this year.  I also topstitched this one with white thread, which does not look good.  I was out of black, and it was like Christmas Eve, and I thought it might look okay.  Also, I did not have anything to match for the backing and so I RIT dyed muslin for the back, and I do not love the flourescent lime that resulted.  It's neat to see that my sewing skills have come a long way since last year...with sewing, you have fun making cool things, make mistakes, but effortlessly your skills magically improve!

Here is the other one I just made; this one is appropriate for a man or a lady:

This one has plain, clear red on the reverse.  Apparently, I didn't save that photo to the computer, so you can just imagine that one.  That skirt Dolly is wearing is the wrap skirt from Chic and Simple Sewing.  I messed up the hem and have a date with the seam ripper on that one, lol.  I have one more fabric I want to make this from, too, so I will likely post on this easy to sew, versatile skirt later.

This free apron pattern includes measurements for making adult and also child sizes.  I haven't made the pattern for the child size yet, but I plan to do that maybe today.  I have a yard of this:

I think I will use half to make the classic reversible apron for a child from this, and with the other border quarter I can make a matching fat quarter apron and that could be a matching set.  You can also barely see in this photo that red gingerbread man print from which I made napkins; there is enough left of this for me to make children's christmas aprons, so I plan to do that.

They also have a free tutorial for making a matching chef's hat at Michael Miller.  It, too, is easy to sew (you need patience for gathering the cap, though)!  A matching apron and chef's hat would make a beautiful gift for someone who loves to cook.  I made one of the hats to match Mr. Green's hot peppers apron last year, but he has a humongous head, so I had to alter the pattern a good bit.  Still it would not fit his head if I added the velcro, lol.  I had limited fabric left and had to figure out enlarging it a lot, so the circular cut should have been larger in proportion to the brim, which I made wider than the pattern.  Yours will look nicer than this!

I keep hearing from all directions that aprons are really "hot" right now.  They are super easy to sew and could make great gifts for someone on your list...or just make a cute one for yourself!  Happy Sewing!

i am linking this here:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Napkins are a Quick and Easy Gift to Make and Sew: Here are the Easy, Easier, and Easiest Ways to make them!

Napkins are a favorite gift of mine, because they are incredibly fast and easy to sew;  make up beautifully; and especially because they are a practical gift for the Earth as well as friends or loved ones.  I only use cloth napkins in my house, but am often amazed to see that many people use paper towels every day with their meals and serve them to guests.   I want every household I know to have beautiful matching washable napkins to use instead of paper products.

Cloth napkins are some of the simplest things to sew.  You can cut them to any size, press down all the sides 1/4", then fold and press again, and then sew around the perimeter of each napkin.  I made many napkins this way and this is definitely EASY.

You can make napkins this way without even having to sew them if you use Stitch Witchery no sew hemming tape.   I haven't made them this way myself, but I have seen it written many times by different knowledgeable people that this stuff works just fine and will hold up to myriad washings.  Make them this way and all you have to do is a lot of pressing, saving the sewing step; this is even EASIER.

But by far the quickest easiest way to make cloth napkins is using your serger.  Serging napkins (and handkerchiefs) are most likely the absolute simplest, easiest, and quickest projects possible.  You don't have to turn and press edges at all!  Just cut your napkins and run them under the serger.  You could make multiple sets in half an hour.  I like to use the rolled hem with most fabrics, or a picot edge finish also looks lovely.
Serging napkins is definitely the EASIEST way to make them!

If you make 12" square napkins, which is an oversized cocktail or casual (lunch) size, you can make a set of 8, as well as simple little bag to wrap and present and contain them, from just one yard of fabric.   Here are some made in this size from festive holiday fabric:

I made a set of these as my gift for the holiday bloganza, and sets to give as hostess gifts during the holiday season.

I also just made some from this gorgeous fabric, using metallic thread in the upper looper.  I have found metallic thread to be impossible to sew with using a sewing machine, but it works beautifully in the serger loopers.  Because this fabric made me think of celebrations so much, I used the leftover scrap to make a wine bottle carrier as well, and Mr. Green had the good idea for me to use insulated batting so it can help carry a chilled bottle of wine.  Wouldn't this set make a beautiful hostess gift for New Years Eve?  This set is for sale.

(I haven't sewed the straps on the wine bag yet)

Flannel makes super soft napkins.

I want to get more flannel to make large sets of large sized napkins like these.

I also like to make 16" napkins as my favorite size.  I just cut a stack of poinsettas with gold that I want to keep for my table. ;)

 Sew, No-Sew, and Serger are Easy, Easier, and Easiest ways to make fabric napkins which are quick, useful, and can be gorgeous gifts.  Ya'll make some for your holiday gifts, too!

Happy Sewing!

I am linking this post at these parties:

mmm button


Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Bloganza

Hi, ya'll.  I have been so busy the last couple of weeks, because I am going to have a gift show tomorrow, here locally.  I have been making lots of things, but haven't had to time to write posts.  I have been taking photos, though, and should have some new gift idea posts up here soon.

I was invited to participate in the holiday bloganza by Teri at My Journey with Candida, and the deadline is today to enter.  I am going to contribute a handmade gift as a prize.  For now, I am just calling it a mystery handmade gift, because I haven't posted about this gift idea yet.

 Head over to the Holiday Bloganza and read about this contest; one winner takes all, and there were over 25 prizes when I last looked.  The contest doesn't start until 11/22/10 and runs until 12/6/10.  You have to follow this blog (and all the blogs who are contributing prizes) in order to win the pot and there are extra points for leaving comments.  This looks like it will be a lot of fun!

I will post again here soon.  Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Easy Gift to Sew: Prudent Baby's Fat Quarter Apron

I have had such fun making these Fat Quarter Aprons (tutorial at Prudent Baby).  This is definitely one of the easiest and most fun tutorials I have come across this year.   This project would make a great gift for domestic types on your list. 

Here is the first one I made:

I did one thing different from the tutorial, which is use the entire fat quarter for the skirt of the apron, and use the contrasting fabric to make the waist band at the top.  Instead of using ready made trim, I used the contrasting fabric to make a ruffle.  I finished the ruffle in contrasting (dark green) wooly nylon thread with a serger rolled hem.  Here is a closer picture of the green rolled hem:

I REALLY love this apron!  It reminds me of bubbles and makes me want to wash dishes!

Then I made another one, too, from fabric I have been saving for just the right project.   I had a lot of fun with the applique on this; I will be doing lots more applique, I think.  I used wonder under and then sewed the edges using a satin stitch, except for the butterfly (fussy cut from a scrap of fabric), which I sewed using invisible nylon thread:

There is a slideshow at Prudent Baby with 100 different photos of aprons made by many talented people; you should check out for some serious inspiration for all kinds of different ways to make these unique.

I can't believe I didn't see any examples made for men.  I have an idea to use masculine fabric (without the ruffle) and applique "DAD" on one side.

You could make one with a pocket and slide in a new wooden spoon.  Or maybe make a matching set for a mother and daughter (or sisters).  Or make one (or more) reversible. There are myriad ways to make this a great gift!  Have fun with it!

Happy Sewing

I am linking this here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Best Bias Skirt Yet- and it's a Convertible Dress

I think corduroy is probably my favorite thing about fall.  I was thrilled to get several yards of this fine wale indigo dyed corduroy, and I really love this long bias skirt I made from it.

Yep, I cut this cotton corduroy on the bias, and it worked out just fine.  I drafted this pattern myself, using the one-yard wonders bias skirt pattern as a guide at the top.  I know this is going to be my favorite skirt I have made for myself yet.  But what is even better is that it doubles as a dress!

I love the weight of this cotton corduroy, which is not too heavy, and I can totally see wearing this over my bathing suit (or just as a dress) at the end of the day in summer.  I predict I will be making a navy swimsuit when spring fever starts to set in early next year!

I finished the bottom hem of this skirt with narrow regular serging (after I broke two heavy duty needles trying to roll the hem on this corduroy) and then I used this special ric rac-ish trim over the serged edge.  This skirt could not have been easier to sew.   If you have the same (or nearly the same) chest and hip measurements, as do Dolly and me, then you can easily make a 2-in-1 convertible long skirt and dress, too.

I had more of this fabric and next I will show you my jacket....

Happy Sewing!

Easy Blouse to Sew: Simplicity 3750

I already showed ya'll the sleeveless top I made for summer using Simplicity 3750.

I wanted to try the version B with long sleeves.  I cut this blouse a size smaller than the first version of this pattern I sewed.  So I partially made this one as a muslin (I recycled a sheet), but I figured it would be a useful wardrobe piece in white, and I will definitely wear this.

 Here is the back:

I hate to say this, but I have gotten a little fatter than Dolly, and so my things look a little big on her.  I need to either lose a couple of inches or fatten her up somehow.  That's a project for next year.  lol

This pattern is really easy.  I notice there are a lot of garment patterns that say Easy but aren't.  This one is and would be easy to sew for anyone who can run a machine.  The most complicated detail in this blouse is gathering, which is easy to do.  If you haven't sewn a blouse before and want to, don't be afraid to sew this one.  I like Simplicity patterns; their instructions are clear and easy to follow, plus they are easily affordable.

Both Jo-Ann's and Hancock regularly run sales for Simplicity patterns for a dollar; that's when I buy mine.  I like to sew frugal.  Considering that white sheet cost me nothing this blouse was certainly worth my time.

I am going to post that skirt she is wearing's a convertible dress.

Have a great day!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite Bias Skirt from One Yard

I keep showing ya'll the awesome projects I have made following patterns in the book One-Yard Wonders, because I know ya'll would like to make them too.

I am not sure how I haven't said much yet about the bias skirt pattern in this book, because this has been my most loved and favorite project I have made from the book yet.

I have made 6 or 7 of these bias skirts and worn one most every day for months now.  Here is my most favorite:

Besides the awesomeness of making a skirt from just a yard of fabric, this skirt pattern is super easy, too.  If you use your serger to roll the hem, as I do, you can make one in under half an hour.  The bias cut is super flattering and the elastic waist is most comfortable for a skirt.  I have found that this pattern, cut just a tiny bit smaller, makes an excellent half slip, too.   This pattern alone has been worth the price I paid for this book.

As you all know, I highly recommend this book chock full of (101) easy sewing projects to wear, use, and give as gifts.  If you haven't yet, you should buy it now

I will be back soon; Happy Sewing!

Easy Baby Jacket to Sew: Another One-Yard Wonders Project

The Baby Fly Away Jacket in the One Yard Wonders book caught my attention when I first looked through this book.  I knew I would be making at least one of these cute jackets, and now that I have, I predict I will make more.

This is a super easy project that makes up in just minutes.  The directions in the book call for one layer of flannel, and then using bias tape to bind all the raw edges.  Which will work beautifully, I am sure.

But I decided to skip the bias tape and make this little jacket lined and reversible instead:

To make this jacket this way, all you have to do is cut and sew 2, instead of one.  Then place them right sides together and sew a narrow seam allowance all around the sides, neck, and bottom, leaving an opening for turning.  Clip your seams, notching around the curves, turn, press, and then close the opening and top stitch all around.  Then you just fold under the raw sleeve edges on both sides (together) and top stitch these down.  and Voila! This works out even easier than the original instructions of using bias tape, in my opinion.  Next I want to try to enlarge this and make one for my toddler, and add a hood.

I must have made more than a dozen projects from this awesome book by now, and I will make many more.  Here are some I have shown on this blog already:
casserole cozies
the Folklore Bag
Ladies Jammies

I thought I had posted the bias skirt as well; I have made half a dozen or more of these skirts and this is my favorite pattern in this book so far.  I will go and photograph my most favorite one and post that next.

If you don't have it yet, you really should buy this book now!
Happy Sewing!