Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Storm At Sea....

washed up this pretty little mermaid.


This was for another swap :), of course. I’ve really been enjoying these fun little projects. My attention span is long enough for them. My partner loves mermaids and I had originally intended to make a pillow. After I got the top finished, though, I started worrying that she wouldn’t have a place to put it, and decided to go with a mini quilt instead.

Even though I do think my machine quilting needs some work, my partner loved it.... which quite frankly is always the best part.


The block pattern is a favorite of mine, “Storm at Sea”. I love all the different patterns your eyes can focus on. I paper pieced the top making a few minor changes (like the mermaid) using a pattern from an old issue of Miniature Quilts Magazine, which sadly appears to have gone out of business. (I should probably take better care of my old issues.)

I’m thinking (watch out), I would like to do a bed size quilt with a black background and make the colored pieces yellows and oranges and reds..... It’s funny when I lived in the desert (like my swap partner) I loved the cool blues and greens. However, since moving to Oregon, where there are so many different greens outside, I have discovered a new appreciation for yellow and orange, especially come February.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

12 Down only 2 to go Except......

Good News first:


One more completed puppy! Isn’t he adorable.... I wouldn’t fall for it though that face ALWAYS means they either did or are about to do something “fun”.

Bad News (in pairs):

I’m stuck. This little guy has been almost done for a couple of months, but I don’t know what to do about the box.... if I just outline it is it going to stand out for being so plain next to the clown?


(sorry about the wrinkles)

This one I could do a little bit more on but I’m not sure what to do about the wagon. That much fill makes me feel a little woozy but will it look finished just outline stitching it? Also what color should it be? It feels like wagons should always be red but there is no red on the rest of the quilt.


A third option ( which may just be laziness speaking) is, if I leave these out, twelve blocks makes a nice divisible number for a quilt layout. Fourteen does not. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to put these together.


Monday, August 16, 2010

ATC Catchup

I’m behind on showing you my ATC’s. I don’t do a lot of them but they are a fun & fast (relatively speaking) project when a theme grabs me.

These two I were screaming my name. I just couldn’t help myself.... A Frog Prince and Sewing Theme ATC.... really how could I NOT sign up for these?



Then we had a Non-Paper ATC. Again I was compelled. Resistance is futile. ( My partner likes skulls and keys. The pattern is from Urban Threads.)


While cupcakes are wonderful any time they say CELEBRATE to me so when my partner for the Cupcake ATC swap listed her favorite holidays and celebrations I thought I would try for a theme. How did I do?



And last but not least the Woodland ATC’s. I know this probably isn’t what most people had in mind but the only thing I could think of when I saw the theme was “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Produce

I am a hopeless gardener. I LOVE fresh off the plant produce but, aside from the odd tomato plant that I remember to put in a pot before it shrivels up and dies, I can't grow anything myself. (Oh, there is a lavender plant that seems to get bigger and stronger completely on it's own. That is probably because I stuck it someplace and left it to fend for itself though.) When I get a craving for good produce I stop someplace like this



and BUY stuff like this...



However, if you just want to look at it or stick pins into it I can help you.





These were for a Tomato Pincushion Swap. I got a little carried away. I used this tutorial. It took me longer to dig through my stash and choose fabric than it did to whip them up. I used carded wool to stuff them. I think it stuffs a little firmer than polyfill and with the little bit of lanolin still in it I'm guessing it is good for your pins and needles. Really though it's because I have more fleece than I can spin in my life time. (Well maybe not, if I started now and gave up all other crafts, but that's not going to happen. I thought I had better start getting creative with some of it.) On a side note: if you make the smaller size, I thought it was much easier to gather them with a hand sewn running stitch than it was on the machine.



I'm getting better at the needle books. I managed to get through this one with out ripping anything out and I definitely didn't have to make a (ehem) demo one first. I used this pattern by BigB for the strawberries. She has a lot of great embroidery patterns. I love the sparkle of the "seed" beads. (Go ahead and groan. I deserve it.) I still really need to get around to making one of these for myself, maybe I would stop losing my scissors.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fast and Fun

Well, Shelby let me know awhile ago she got this and even was sweet enough to come leave me a comment here. So I think it is probably safe to show you what I came up with for the bookmark I sent her. :)


I just foundation pieced the cotton scraps to the heaviest interfacing I had for the base. Then I stitched over the seams with a variegated thread using what ever stitch looked interesting out of The Embroidery Stitch Bible. All I had to carry around was the book (One of the reasons I love this particular one is it's tiny.), a couple of precut threads and the bookmark. With the interfacing on the back I didn't need a hoop and the little lines of stitching were so short I was picking out a new stitch in just a few minutes. To finish it, I machine sewed a back on it.... like making a pillow case, turned it right side out and top stitched down close to the edge. I really should make more of these. It was a fun little project.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Embroidery and pretty girls

One of the first swaps I signed up for was Pin-Up Hand Embroidery, but we had a month to complete it so it’s been awhile in the making.

But YAY! Katy, got my package so I FINALLY get to show off what I sent. I have to say, I was a little intimidated by my partner. I’ve bought several of her wonderful patterns so it really had to be good. I was torn about whether I should use one of hers, or try something else. In the end I went with this little dancing girl from Keen Olive.


I've had her finished for quite some time. I loved working on this little girl. She was one of those projects that every detail that filled in just seemed exactly right.


The stockings are my favorite part. :) I used a fine tulle and cut it big enough to go over her leg. If I was a more patient, meticulous person I would have basted it down or something first. But I'm not, so I just backed stitched it on the embroidery line. Then I took out the part I did at the beginning and smoothed it a little flatter and redid the first part over. And then I did it exactly the same way for the second leg. I don't believe in making things easier on myself apparently. I was afraid when I trimmed the edges it would pull out so I ran a very tiny running stitch right next to the embroidery using a silk thread designed for applique. If you look super close you can see it but it's not obvious and the stockings stayed attached. Even after a trip through the washer. I cannot believe how filthy white fabric can get even when I'm being extra careful.


After her stocking I think I love her hair. I was worried about how it was going to look so I put it off until the last bit. Procrastinating means it’s going to work, you know, and it did. I just crammed as many french knots into a small space as I could using three different shades of brown.

When I signed up for this I knew I would want to put an extra little thing in the box but I didn't quite know what it was. After reading Katy's profile I knew I wanted to make her a needle book. I mean how hard can it be, really.

Apparently I can make anything really hard if I want to.....( I have been sewing for as long as I can remember. I have made quilts, clothes, curtains, and stuffed animals. ) I made more silly mistakes on this one little book than I have one probably any 10 projects. My Home Ec teacher would have been ashamed. I didn't put the right sides together on the pocket..... rip it out...didn't put the right sides together on the cover..... rip it out... forgot to put the ribbons in.... rip it out.... cut too close when I trimmed the corners.... resew that corner.... finally pretty little needle book.....


Not so fast. Now the observant among you will have noticed something I did not notice until I went to address the package.

Yep... Katy not Katie...... Really no way to fix this. Which makes this one.... a prototype.... Ya that's it. It wasn't so much a bad thing. I knew I had wanted a pocket in the back for scissors and a pocket in the front for floss.... the size I had made it was the same size as one of the ATC's which was just a tiny bit small for scissors.

I increased the size just a little bit, added some sparkly bits and found some wool felt instead of the acrylic. Much better. Apparently the universe was trying to tell me I needed practice.


I’m really happy with how they both turned out and now I think I need a needle book.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mornings, Molskines, and Mermaids... Oh, my!

Yay! My swap partner let me know she got my project, and liked it! So I finally get to talk about it. This was another “Ivy project”. She was totally in control from the from the very beginning, and as a result it was a lot of fun.

Four things you should know for this to make sense.

1) Ivy is my inner voice, my most creative, albeit flaky, part. She has a short attention span but great ideas. Luckily this was a short project, so I didn’t lose her and have to finish it on my own.

2) My email comes to my phone. (I know. I’m spoiled. )

3) This was for Handmade Anything Swap so I wasn’t restricted to a particular thing.

4) I am NOT a morning person. I never have been. I never plan on being. This is on my refrigerator:


The email letting us know our swap partners had been assigned came in around 4 am. Normally I have my phone set to silent, but for some reason it was still on vibrate and it woke me up just enough to look to see what it was. The instant Ivy saw it she was wide awake. (Making something for someone that they actually want is her favorite thing and we had been waiting, not so patiently, for partners to be assigned so we could look at a profile and start working.)

The conversation went something like this (It was early. Forgive me for paraphrasing.):

Me: What is that noise!?! Stupid phone...... Oh swap partners are assigned. I’ll have to look at that later when my eyelids will stay up.

Ivy: What?!? Swap partners are assigned?! Let’s see! Let’s see! Let’s see! (Picture a two year old with a pixie stick.)

Me: Shhhhhh. Sleeping time.

Ivy: Let’s see! Let’s see! Let’s see!

(Continue in this manner for about 15 min.)

Me: IVY! Shut up! If you look you will have to use someone else’s eyeballs!

Ivy: <Pout> If you let me look I promise we can go back to sleep......

Me: And if I don’t.....

Ivy: Well I’m already awake.

Me: ........ ok, but I’m only using one eye......

My partner had a great filled out profile, lots to choose from, but a couple things caught Ivy’s attention.

Ivy: Ooooooo Vintage Mermaids... I know..... and Molskines, we love those..... I know! I know!.... and music..... OK! It’s perfect! I know what we’re going to do!

Me: Me too.... Sleep!

Ivy: Sigh..... ok you sleep.... I’ll just be here and think....

(Another 15 min later)

Me: Ivy, you are thinking very loudly.

Ivy: Can’t help it.... Great ideas you know.....

Ivy: You could just get up.... have to in an hour anyway....we could play until it’s time to go for “the walk”

Me: Fine!

Me: What’s your idea?

Ivy: We have that Aunt Martha’s Mermaid Pattern, you know the one we made the tea towel out of.


Me: Ya those are cute, but she doesn’t say anything about liking to cook so I don’t think a tea towel is the best idea.....

Ivy: Give me more credit than that. We’re going to make a cover thing for a Moleskine. She says she likes to go out and listen to music and she likes Moleskines so we’re going to make her something that will hold a Molskine and a pen and papers or credit cards or whatever else you might need for going out.... It will need a zipper.....and a mermaid.... that’s important....

Me: That’s good..... but I really hate zippers.....

Ivy: Don’t sound so surprised and too bad. It needs a zipper.

Me: Ok, I’m up.... Which mermaid are we going to do and how big do you want this fabric cut?

Ivy: The one with the harp... duh.... music..... and I don’t know.... numbers are your job...

Me: Don’t sass me. Do you have any idea what time it is? and I’ll just make it big and figure it out later.

Ivy: Ok by me...hurry up I want to color!

Me: Color?

Ivy: Ya we’re going to use those pastels, you’ve never let me touch, sitting on the shelf.... look... right there.... ya those....

Me: I don’t know how those would work.....

Ivy: Then iron me a second one and we’ll practice first.... Yay!!!!! more coloring!!!!!

Me: Are you sure you’re 33 years old?

Ivy: Nope.

And over the course of the week we managed to come up with this:


(Front cover)


(Zippered pocket on the back)


(The inside with pen and journal)


(My lovely model, Emily, with everything that went in the envelope)

I’m pretty proud of us.

Friday, July 16, 2010

They're so tiny.....

As you know I recently discovered an instant passion for Swap-bot. It might be love and it might not.... only time will tell if it is true or just infatuation.

One of the things I have discovered there are ATC’s or Artist Trading Cards. I had to look up ATC to find out what they were (I saw them mentioned everywhere) and once again “love” at first sight. I mean what a perfect idea. They are tiny only 2.5” x 3.5” the size, approximately, of a playing card and can be anything. (This is my understanding. I’m not an expert.) They don’t take a lot in the way of materials. I’m finally using some of those itty bitty pieces “I just knew I would need some day” and cost next to nothing to mail. I joined three swaps right away, couldn’t stop myself. They were I've never made an ATC before! - international, I've never made an ATC before! : (, and Woodland Themed ATC Swap. I’ve finished and sent the first two, and my partners let me know today they got them. I finally get to show them off.... for being my first try I think they are not too bad.


The Wisdom of Eeyore


“B” is for Butterfly


Impressionist in Wool

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Danger..... Please observe with care

It is amazing how fast time flies when you aren't paying attention. :) I have been stitching... honest....I have a couple more finished puppies


and I'm almost done with the last three. But my life and crafting time has been hijacked, swallowed whole, consumed utterly, by my latest discovery.... Swap-bot. Oh my goodness.... that's really all I can say. I love the post card swaps, and I'm trying my hand at making ATC's .

I have an empty wall in my cubicle at work that I can't wait to fill up with post cards


(so far I have one from the Netherlands and Pennsylvania) and tiny pieces of art.

I took part in a handmade anything swap and I can't wait for my partner to receive it so I can show you what I made... I'm really quite proud of myself and I really I hope she likes it.

This is what I made for my very first swap, Handmade bookmarks.


The pattern is from Urban Threads. I extended the fence some and I used fusible web and some felted sweater scraps (leftovers from Christmas projects) for the birds. I think it came out fairly well, and my partner said she liked it.

I've got a pin up girl I'm working on for Katie from SewLovely. I can't tell you how nervous I am about this one.... I really hope she likes her..... I had an idea that I'm not entirely sure will work but if it does I think it will be wonderful. Cross your fingers for me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Distraction..... Look a Monkey!

And my monkey juggles......


I had originally planned for him to have stars on his vest and on the juggling balls but I just couldn't make them look neat so I filled them in and used some fancy pants looking stitches (it's just herring bone stitch folks) on the balls. The tension got a little wonky around his vest but I think once he is quilted it will be fine.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What about you?

I am lucky. I spend my days at work with a group of ladies that like to make things. The job isn't creative, but in our little circle more than half of us are "crafters". We sew. We knit. We crochet, embroider and quilt. We can each do all of these things and enjoy them; however, we differ in what we create, why we create, and how much we create. One of us is a very prolific quilter. We are all jealous of her energy. She quilts to unwind and untangle herself from a very stressful job. One of us creates to fill a need. If someone is having a baby she turns out little hats and booties faster than anyone I have ever seen. She likes giving things that are a piece of herself to others but she rarely keeps anything for herself. Another of us creates things because she likes them. She makes beautiful things, bags, quilts, shawls, according to her taste and need.

This got me thinking about why I like to make things. Being creative usually does relieve stress for me, but I also enjoy it when it creates stress. I love to give handmade gifts, but I usually try to find a person for the project I want to do not a project to fit the person. I have absolutely zero ability to decorate my home or myself for that matter. (Jeans go with any kind of top.... right?) There are things I like, of course, but nothing that really goes together. My home and wardrobe are a hodgepodge of random things that caught my fancy. (Frogs are a common theme around my home but range significantly from silly to elegant as well.)

I think one of the reasons I like to create is I want to see if I can. I love the feeling of "Hey look at that! I did that!" I don't have any particular loyalty to any one type of craft. I do tend to lean towards textile crafts of some sort but have also done some paper crafts and some photography and someday hope to learn everything from basket weaving to blacksmithing. (I blame Ivy for that one.) I love to use my hands and fingers to touch. It is so much more satisfying for me to go to the fabric store or yarn store and run my fingers over the merchandise than it is to go find the perfect shoes. I love color and how they all blend together. I love how many different shades there are of the same color. And I love the mental game of planning a project, particularly a quilt. (How many variations of an ABC quilt can one person do? or use? Super heros? Food? Book Covers? Authors? Pirates? Wild West?) Sorry, got distracted..... There are hundreds of imaginary projects in my head that are worth planning that will never be reality.

What about you? Why do you want to create?

Monday, June 28, 2010

She can be taught.... eventually......


See these.... cute aren't they.... deceiving little buggers.....

These taught me some things about embroidery in that "tough love" fashion. You know the one... where you can almost hear your project cackling at you as you are taking out your stitches AGAIN.

These didn't get banished to the permanent WIP drawer for only a very few reasons. A) I'm stubborn. B) They aren't for me but for a very dear friend who loves pirates and really, truly appreciates handmade things. I couldn't think of a better gift. C) I didn't leave myself enough time to think of something else let alone MAKE something else. D) I'm really quite stubborn.

So on to the lessons:

1) Trace the pattern after you iron the stabilizer on. Then iron again.

2) Even though I whined not two weeks ago that I was much slower on a project where I had to use stabilizer, apparently if something looks physically small I think I can just burn through it. This is not true.


This one, the first one I did, took an ENTIRE day of couch time. Which leads me to Lesson #3.

3) If you are saying very bad words because you needle does not pierce the fabric cleanly or is "squeaky" or hard to pull through the fabric, before you frighten the innocent or wake the devil, for The Love of Pete get a new needle. I mean really, Carrie, a package of them is what? $1.75? If you have used the same needle for the last 5 projects, it has had a good, long, fulfilling life and it may be time to let it go.

I can't even claim that I figured this out. I left the needle I had been using stuck in the arm of the couch at home and when I started the 2nd one on my lunch break I HAD to get a new one. If I had "figured it out" I would have gotten more accomplished on day 1.


4) No matter how carefully you iron on the stabilizer, if you pull on the fabric separately when putting it in the hoop, it will come apart. You must, then, take it all the way out of the hoop and reapply the stabilizer. There is no cheating.


5) Recognize the fact that even though you are still capable of movement you may be too tired to continue. Staying up an extra 30-45 minutes to get to a "good stopping place" or finish "this last little bit" only costs you time in the long run. Chances are, when you wake up the next morning, you will realize that the last hour of work from the night before is rubbish and has to be taken out. (Also note: When you are awake, what took you an hour the night before, will probably only take about 10 minutes when your eyes are open.)


6) Metallic Floss was dreamed up to torment people. It gives you a wonderful vision of what is possible that makes everything else seem somehow less, and then you try to use it...


7) When someone really, really appreciates the blood, sweat and tears of a hand made gift it doesn't matter how many bad words I said, I want to go home and make more.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ta Da!


It’s finished! And I think it is my favorite thing I have ever stitched.


These might be my favorite part. They turned out exactly how I wanted.


Just in case anyone else wants to make a smug little prince you can download the pattern here. Let me know if there are any problems with it and I would love to see anything you make.... I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with mine.... Any suggestions?