Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pinterest Fail

Ah, Pinterest.  You make it look so easy.

Look, how simple!   I'll just tape some old Christmas lights on the wall and pop my sweet baby up on the bed with some ornaments for a super cute Christmas card photo.

 Nailed it!

Ok, to be fair I did get some really great photos on the plaid blanket, which you'll see at the end of this post.  But this Pinterest pose didn't pan out.  First, I wasn't able to wrangle the cats off the guest bed. Then I didn't want to mess with untangling and taping up lights with a wriggly baby.  Meanwhile I was running out of daylight.  So I decided to throw a blanket outside on the grass and try for a cute tummy time pose.  No such luck!

The ornaments were way too tasty and interesting.  These outtakes made me giggle and I thought they'd make you giggle, too.

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas with lots of quality time spent with loved ones.  I know we did.  

Wishing you a happy 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Paper Poinsettias

So, it's Christmas.  Man, where does the time go!?!  I know this is too late for anyone to make any paper poinsettias in time for Christmas this year.   But I'm posting this anyway since I spent the time taking the how-to photos.  Or maybe there's someone out there who has plenty of free time today for a last minute Christmas crafting project.... bwahahaha!  Yeah, yeah, I know.  That's funny.

I have a thing for paper flowers.  We made these paper bag poinsettias at my crafty Christmas party the other weekend.  I have made several of them that are currently drying in the front yard and will be made in to a wreath later today- apparently I have enough free time for a last minute project.  Or maybe I'm just crazy.  I am determined to finish it at this point.  I'll update this post with a finished photo later.  But here are the folding instructions.

All you need is some brown paper grocery bags, or kraft paper.  Just something with some weight to it.  Some wire and some spray paint.  You could even nix the spray paint if you want because I think the brown paper bag is pretty on it's own.  I made a bunch of these for a wreath.  But they would also be pretty stuck in a Christmas tree, as long as you have LED lights that won't catch the paper on fire.  We don't.  We have those big, colorful lights, including bubblers, from the 1960's that would probably burn your house down.  I love them.   Or these paper poinsettias would be pretty on top of a wrapped package.  I came up with these after wanting to make a paper version of a poinsettia that wasn't flat.  I wanted some dimension.  When I looked at real poinsettias, I liked how the leaves sprang forward from the center of the flower.  I left off the the actual flower part of the poinsettia- the little yellow and green nubby looking bit in the middle.  But you could add that in pretty easily if you wanted.  Fun fact: Did you know that red and pink part of the poinsettia plant is not the flower?  They are actually modified leaves called bracts.  So I just focused on recreating the bracts.

I drew a template before I started of three different leaf shapes.  Each bract is shaped like a spade with a long stem on it: a big one, a short and squat one, and a skinny one.  The stem on the end is what gives the flower some dimension.

The pictures are pretty self-explanatory.  I cut a few of each bract shape.  I think for this flower I cut five big ones, three skinny ones and three short, squat ones.

Next, I folded each bract.  I folded in half lengthwise.  Then while the leaf was still folded in half, I folded the ridges.  I just folded back and forth like a fan.  When you open up the lengthwise fold, you can see the pretty ridges, much like the texture on a real poinsettia.  I did this to all the bracts.  It didn't take to long.  

Then I twisted each stem part of the bracts.

Finally, I assembled the flower.  I started with the smaller shaped leaves in the middle and put the bigger ones on the outside.  I wrapped wire all around the stem part, like a bouquet of flowers.  I'm sure there is a much prettier way to do this but I knew mine would be attached to a wreath form anyway.  I left a piece of wire hanging to help with the spray paint.

Then just a healthy dose of spray paint and they were done.  I did spray a few times to make sure I covered all surfaces.  I used Krylon's shimmer spray paint followed by some glitter blast for extra sparkle.

And there it is!  I was pretty happy with the shape of these paper poinsettias.  They really do have a nice three-dimensional shape and will make a nice wreath that can be packed away and used year after year.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Crafty Christmas Party Part Deux

Before I start I just want to take a minute to say thank you for all the kind words on my last post.  It was one of those things that I didn't know if I should write about or not.  But I'm glad I did.  J's leukemia is a part of our life now whether we like it or not.  So it may pop up from time to time.  We really are doing well.  He is doing well.  The scariest time was during his diagnosis.  Thinking about the unknown was far worse than getting a definite diagnosis and moving forward.  So anyway.  Thanks so much for the thoughts and good vibes and for those who shared their own stories.  The support is very much appreciated.

Ok, moving on!  I had my second annual crafty Christmas party last weekend.  You can read about my first one here.  It was awesome, dorky fun.  I had more people show up this year after hearing stories about last year's party and not wanting to miss out.  We did the cookie exchange again.  What a great idea that is.  Just not for my willpower.  Once again I was left with way too many cookies.  I may have to let someone else host next year so I don't eat so many damn cookies afterwards.

For the crafts this year we folded origami boxes, did some easy applique and made a few paper poinsettias.    I'm most proud of those poinsettias since I made them up myself.  I even took some photos of how to make one and hopefully I'll post about them before Christmas.  I am making a wreath with some.  They are just paper bags and spray paint.

Look at those legs!

The applique was by request.  I helped host a baby shower for a friend recently and we did diy onesies during the baby shower.  I know you've seen it before.  You set up a station with fabric, some sort of fusible web, embroidery floss, and various trims and buttons.  Then guests at the shower can go to town making a personalized onesie to give to the expectant mom.  The shower was loads of fun.  So we decided to do it at the crafty Christmas party, too.  I had most of the supplies left over from the shower.  I just had to get some Christmas-y fabric.  I made this onesie for Jane.  I wasn't super creative or anything, but I like it.  I actually used some of the leftover fabric from the baby shower instead of the Christmas fabric.

I'm a little disappointed in the fusible web I used, though.  I bought Pellon Wonder Under since that is what I've always used for applique.   Only I normally stitch it down with a sewing machine as well.   I read that it's ok to just fuse on fabric and not stitch it down, which is what we did at both parties.  I figured we'd get a couple of wears out of whatever we made with some fraying, of course.  But baby Jane wore her onesie today and two of the Christmas lights starting peeling off right away.  Maybe it didn't bond right?  I followed the instructions on the packaging exactly.  Or is it because I fused a woven to a knit onesie?  I've read online that something called Heat 'n' Bond works better.  Anybody know if that's true? Any applique experts out there?  I'm going to stitch over baby Jane's appliques so she can wear it another time or two before Christmas.  But I'm a little bummed that the other guests might have similar experiences with what they made.  Live and learn.

And what about this sweet baby?  Jane is eight months old now, which I can't believe.  She sits like a champ.  She isn't crawling yet but she can steamroll her way across the room if she sees something interesting.

Look a little closer at this face.  Can you spot anything different about my baby?

Two adorable little teef.  Just when I think it's impossible for her to be any cuter.

Merry Christmas, y'all.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Ok, I have written this post so many times now.  It never sounds quite right.  I think that's probably because I'm not all sorted out about what's been going on.  I've written this story from a very positive point of view, I've written it all gloom and doom and everything in between.  So, let me try and write this as objectively as I can.

Today, Mr. Jane and I celebrate four years of marriage.  As cheesy as it sounds, J is my absolute perfect match.  The yin to my yang.  The peanut butter to my jelly.  The cheese to my macaroni.  He balances me out, keeps me grounded and makes me want to be a better person.  He has a heart of gold.  I am total crap at verbalizing these things in the everyday, which is why I'm writing it here instead.  I love you more than words, J.

J was diagnosed with leukemia this summer.  It started with an unexplained mass in his abdomen that ended up being an enlarged spleen.  It was the same weekend baby Jane turned three months old.  I remember it all very vividly.  I wasn't sure I was going to write about it at all, being such a terrifying and personal experience.  But over the last month I decided I really wanted to make some mention of what is going on, even though this is just a silly old sewing blog (I don't really mean the silly part ;)  It is part of our life now, whether we like it or not, and I know it will pop up in posts and projects from time to time.  So. There it is. 

The type of leukemia that J has is probably the best case scenario.  He has a type of leukemia called chronic myelogenous leukemiaIf you have to have cancer, this is the type of cancer you want to have.  That was what his oncologist told him.  Ha.  It sounds like a crazy statement to make, but she is right.  J jokes that this was like winning some sort of terrible lottery.

The treatment for CML is pretty amazing.  J takes a pill a day.  A cancer pill.  No chemotherapy, no radiation.  If this doesn't convince you of the wonders of modern medicine, I don't know what will.  A little wonder drug called Gleevec came on the market in 2001 and was used to treat CML.  It was the first of it's kind and paved the way for similar treatments for other types of cancer.  J takes a different generation, but a wonder drug no less.  The most sobering piece of information we read during all of this was this little fact- that before this drug was available, the lifespan for people with CML was three to five years.  Now his doctor tells us that she sees no reason he can't live out his normal life.  Albeit with more doctor visits and awareness of what is going on in his blood and bone marrow, but still, a normal life.  We are so thankful.

So far, so good.  J is responding well to the medication with no major side effects.  He has hit enough milestones that I feel like I can exhale now.  When it comes to the future we know nothing is for certain, but nothing is certain for anyone.  These past few months have been a roller coaster ride.  Lots of ups and downs but we are starting to settle back in to a routine.  I am finding a lot of comfort in that normalcy.  You know, as normal as it gets with an almost eight month old baby.  We have certainly gained a lot of perspective.  We know not to take any moment for granted.  I have recently started yelling at J for leaving his shoes in the middle of den again, so I'm taking that as a good sign that things are getting back to the way things were.  Ha.  I'm only human :)

And of course this post would not be complete without a link to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research, as we have experienced firsthand.  It is an extremely worthy cause.  There are many, many ways to donate and support the LLS.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Life Cycle Of A Butterfly

It starts with a tiny egg, attached to a leaf.

 Next, a tiny caterpillar hatches and begins to eat, starting with the leaf she was attached to.

She eats. And grows. 

And eats.  And grows.  And eats some more.

Did I mention she EATS?

Soon, the caterpillar turns in to a chrysalis.  She appears to be resting, but really there are big changes going on.  
Guess what happens next?

A beautiful baby butterfly emerges!

 There's a little science lesson for you.  Baby Jane makes quite a cute little caterpillar/butterfly, doesn't she?

I've been up to my ears in cheapo poly fleece this past week.  There's nothing better than making a costume for a baby.  I figured I better go ahead and start the tradition- a handmade Halloween costume for my sweet little bub every year.  I'll certainly be able to keep that up, right?!  Riiiiiggggghhht.

The idea for this costume started with Jane's sleep sack.  She sleeps in these wearable blankets, basically a sack with armholes and a zipper up the front.  The idea is that she won't get tangled up in a blanket when she's sleeping.   I really like her sleep sacks because this baby is all over the crib now.  She's rolling all over the place.  I wake up in the morning and find her crammed in to a corner, sound asleep.  Anyway.  When Jane is in her sleep sack, J and I joke about how she looks like a little glow worm.  Thus the idea of the caterpillar was born.  And when else will I be able to dress her in a baby bunting costume like this?  Never.  I want to enjoy my immobile little nugget while I can.  Then I thought, wouldn't it be awesome if she could turn in to a butterfly?  A convertible costume!

I traced one of her sleep sacks for the bunting and narrowed and rounded the bottom end a bit.  That was the easy part.  Then I made the wings for the butterfly.  I fused the top layer of fleece to some stiff decor bond interfacing left over from my bag.  I cut out some organic shapes for the design on the wings (keeping them symmetrical, of course!) and "appliqued" the shapes to the wings.  I put that in parenthesis because I'm not sure if that's what I should call it.  I stitched the shapes down with a zig zag.   It was all really rough and quick.  But I like it.  There was something really satisfying about the way the fleece puffed up after it was stitched.  Every baby costume needs a little ric rac so I put some jumbo around the edge.  I could have done a better job there at the inside corner, but eh.

The hard part was figuring out how to make the wings hidden.  It took a little bit of engineering.  I sewed the wings to the back piece of the bunting and then cut another back piece that would be used to cover the wings.   Not an entire back piece.  Like a kangaroo pocket.  That's the best way I can describe it.  I knew I wanted the pocket to have two zippered openings.  I ended up sewing the zippers to the pocket piece first and then to the back piece leaving some additional seam allowance.  Next, I sewed the top and the bottom of the pocket piece, enclosing the wings.  Then I sewed the whole back/pocket piece to the front bunting piece being careful not to catch the zippers.  And it worked!  I'm truly amazed that it did.  Truly amazed.  The wings fold up and fit inside of the back pocket.  It's bulky, but that just makes the squishy caterpillar even more adorable.

The cap is actually little betty's awesome, awesome bonnet pattern minus the brim with some antennae stuck in the seams.  The leaves were an afterthought but I think they are a crucial part of the costume.  It was all so much fun to make and even more fun to put my sweet little baby in.  Well worth the work for one or two wears and some memorable photos.  Sorry for the photo overload.  I really did narrow it down ;)

Not sure how I'll top this costume next year.  Better start planning now. 

Happy Halloween, friends.  From a very hungry caterpillar who turns in a to a beautiful butterfly- ha! 

Here's to some crazy Halloween sewing.  Anyone else make any costumes this year?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One More Tee

Just another Scout tee.  I thought this one deserved a post, though a short one.  This past Saturday, J went out to run some errands, baby Jane went down for a nap and I found myself with two whole hours to sew.  It was awesome.  I finished this Scout tee that's been sitting on my ironing board unfinished since I made my first round of Scout tees.  I also started baby Jane's Halloween costume.  It's safe to say that it will be something very cute :)

Anyway, this tee.  This is another knit Scout.  I can't say enough good things about this pattern.  It's the perfect swingy tee, but fitted through the shoulders.  I did one modification to the pattern on my last knit version (my white tee).  I took some width out of the front piece only.  Maybe 3/4 of an inch to an inch.  So the front piece is noticeably narrower than the back.  In this version it's only the lace yoke that has the modified width.  I'm thinking that this is a modification I should make all the time.  I have a broad upper back which throws off shoulder fit in a lot of things.  Taking some width out of the front piece made the shoulders fit better and the neckline sit just right.

This tee is made from two different fabrics.  The striped knit actually began life as a dress I bought shortly after giving birth.  It was stretchy and had an elastic waist.  It was perfect for post baby.  I wore it once, washed it and it shrank to an indecent length.  Darn rayon jersey.  So I threw it in my refashion pile since I liked the striped jersey so much.  The tee is extra swingy because I used the skirt portion of the dress almost as is.  I did cut up the sides and resew the seams because the stripes didn't match on the dress (!).  Now they do.  The dress had a high low hem which I kept.  I promise I'll stop making things high low soon although I like a hem like this on a top because it covers my butt.  I'm always late on the trend bandwagon anyway.   I think the shorter hem in the front keeps this top from being really unflattering with all the width  The yoke on the tee is a stretch lace from the stash.  I drew a line on the paper pattern where I wanted the yoke to be and added seam allowances.  I didn't want to mess with hemming the lace so I used strips of jersey to bind the sleeves and the neckline.

And that's that!  It's my new favorite tee.  It's about time to put the Scout pattern to rest for a little while (six versions so far!) but I actually have one more version in the pipeline.  One more, then I'll stop.  It's just an awesome, awesome tee shirt pattern.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mama's Got A Brand New Bag

Well, hello there!  Yes, mama's got a new bag among other practical sewing projects.  Just so you know, I am blatantly exploiting baby Jane's cuteness to make a post about a bag more interesting.  

Tasty straps!

My goodness.  I think these photos would warm even the coldest of souls out there.  I love her so much I can't stand it sometimes.  Ok ok, so I made a bag. And holy cow, friends.  Bag making is not for the faint of heart.   I made this bag veeeery slowly over the past month and there was some serious wrangling of heavy fabric at the end.

I needed a bag to carry all my junk to work.  Since the beginning of the school year I have been carting about three or four small bags- my lunch bag, my purse, some sort of grocery bag for supplies, my laptop bag and my breast pump.  That's actually five bags.  And that's not counting baby Jane's diaper bag, which actually stays at daycare with her.  Anyway, I wanted a gigantic flat-bottomed bag where I could combine everything in one spot.  So I did what any good sewist would do in a situation like this- I made one.


I used McCalls 6297.  I made view D with the addition of a couple of interior pockets.  This thing is massive.  It's awesome.  This project was done entirely with stash fabrics and notions except for the interfacing.  I had a piece of leopard print canvas I've been saving for a while now with the intention of making a blazer type jacket.  But I decided it would make a nice bag, too.  There may be enough left for the jacket anyway.  The zig zag fabric is leftover from the bench I covered over two years ago.  I interfaced the exterior fabric with a heavy duty decor bond.  I wish I had interfaced the lining fabric, too.  But then again, I don't know how I would have sewed it all together.  I had to use a size 18 needle when I sewed all the side seams.  It's heavy duty.

The pattern has one flat pocket on the outside of one side piece.  And one interior pocket that's made to hold two bottles of some sort.  The pattern is obviously a reusable grocery bag on steroids.  I added a divided interior pocket for my cell phone and keys and a zippered pocket.  I piped all the pockets just because.  And look at the nifty little mini clutch there!

I was toying with the idea of making a matching wallet when Cake patterns announced the release of the free Red Velvet Mini Clutch pattern.  It was exactly what I needed.  See, I don't carry an actual purse anymore.  At least not like I used to.  I have a small bag that holds my cards, phone and keys that I chuck in the diaper bag.  Then when I go somewhere sans baby, I take it out and just carry the little bag.  Now I have a matching one :)

The mini clutch pattern was super quick and very cute.  I made the "boxy" pleated version.   It's the perfect size for a phone and a few cards.  I actually made a pocket on the inside of the lining to hold my credit card and my license.  I just happened to have a red jeans zipper.  Serendipitous, eh?  Don't look too close at my straggly, goofy tassel.  It was fun to make.  There is a lobster clasp attached to the wrist strap.  I had the foresight to sew a loop in the interior of the big bag so I can clip my mini clutch in place.

And so you can see that I really am alive and kicking, here's a photo of me modeling my bag.  Ha!  I actually took this picture because I made the skirt, too.  It's not even worth writing about truly.  I made a tube of fabric, tried it on and pinned out the excess above my hip.  Then I added a yoga type waistband and called it a day.  It's actually two layers of knit fabric.  The stripey fabric is some sort of mystery knit from Joanns.  It's underlined with a slinky rayon knit.  It feels thicker and more secure than your average knit pencil skirt if you know what I mean.  I like it so much (and I like how easy it is to wash and throw on in the morning) that I made a charcoal ponte knit version as well.  The charcoal version has a little more ease.  This stripey one is pretty snug.  Eh.

I made a white tee, too.  Another knit Scout tee.  This version has all of my modifications along with the high low hem that I liked so much on my green version.  It was made in the same slinky rayon knit I lined my stripey skirt with.  It really is the perfect white tee.  I think I've worn it twice a week since I made it.  I had full intentions of putting it on and taking a modeled photo of it.  But someone woke up from her nap.  

And such is the life of a sewing mama.  Little snippets of sewing interspersed with lots snuggling.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

What's that?  You want more baby pictures!?  Well, I guess I can oblige.  I mean, since you asked so nicely.

I can't believe how big baby Jane is getting.  She's six months old now.  And sweet as pie.  All of her dark hair has fallen out and new sandy colored hair is coming in.  And those blue eyes are starting to turn green.  Looks like she's going to take after her daddy and his hazel eyes.

So glad I can sew and make things specifically tailored for my needs.  You know, like a bag to carry all of my treasured posessions ;)

Happy sewing, friends!