Showing posts with label craft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft. Show all posts

stuffed

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I went to a baby shower a while ago for a friend who loves to make things. Not everyone appreciates a little handmade goodness, but others who like to make things usually do. So I went ahead and jumped into as-yet-uncharted territory for me, and made a "softie," as such things are apparently called in this world of crafty blogs. I had seen the beginnings of my friend's nursery design, and knew there were a lot of woodland creatures and lots of green, so I hunted for an easy pattern online and searched my stash for some fun fabrics and came up with this sweet owl. Found the pattern on Emily Ashby's blog here. Nope, I don't know Emily…but she's got a bunch of fun projects on her blog…both freebies and some patterns for purchase…go check her out!


And I liked it so much that I then had to make one for my girl. Who says an owl can't be zebra-striped?


And then, just to challenge myself a bit more, I decided my niece needed an elephant for her birthday. Found a pattern in one of the issues of Stitch magazine. Yeah, I think the elephant is a bit weird, too. It looked much cuter in the magazine!

before & after: footstool

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm 5'2"

I need footstools in my life. My feet tend to not reach the ground sitting in most normal furniture. I also can't reach the top shelf of my kitchen cupboards or our bedroom closet without some sort of vertical assistance.

I like being short. petite. whatever you want to call it. But it does explain my footstool "collection." I had to leave one behind when I left NY…no room in the car for even one more thing.

So when my husband had to go to the auto parts store, and there was a thrift store next door, with a bunch of stuff sidewalk-sale style outside, I was immediately drawn to the stacking footstools. Two for the price of one! And the price, my friends, was a mere $3.95.


As hideous as they were, I knew I could make something out of them. They were Ethan Allen, with totally sturdy bases and really hideously dirty and torn vinyl covers.




So I went to town, ripping out the 3 million and 2 staples holding it all together. The foam was still in good shape, as was the bottom board the vinyl was stapled to.


For some reason, whenever my husband and I are out and about and we see a zebra or other animal-print covered chair, he says we should get it. So I went with zebra.

I sanded down the base and spray painted it a glossy black, then I used the cover and piping I had ripped off as a pattern and sewed the top, top piping and side pieces together, then wrapped that around the foam and the bottom board and stapled the bottom piping on at that point. It was a pain. And yes, I've only done one…not sure when I'll get to the other one, as it hides under my desk, and it perfectly functional and invisible.


And I like it.

And yes, I realize that I have more before photos than after photos. And that from a photography standpoint, the before photos are actually better photos. And I see the smudge on my lens that I didn't see when I was taking the photos.

Perfection is not my game, procrastination is. But I'm posting this now, and not worrying about taking better pictures. Of a footstool.

zippers and ruffles

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A while back, I took a class at my local quilt shop. We were learning strip piecing or string piecing for making quilt blocks, as well as a couple of "quilt as you go" methods. I had a blast doing the string piecing, and ended up with a couple of quilt blocks, but not a ton of desire to do a whole quilt like this just yet. I didn't have enough scraps. I'll get there, I'm sure.

I also decided it was time to figure out how to make a zippered pouch, and used one of the strip-pieced blocks to do so. I had just been reading gussy's blog (she's a fun read, and has cute stuff for sale!), and was inspired to add a ruffle to my pouch.

So here it is…stray strings and all. It's got all my makeup in it now. so handy.




I had a couple of squares that I rejected from my latest quilt because they were more brown than green, so I went ahead and made another pouch, trying another method of assembling the bag, this time with a lining. My first try had one side of the pouch with the lining fabric on the outside instead of the inside. Which I may have just left alone, except that I really like the outside fabric a lot, and don't really love the lining fabric as much.

I also messed up this zipper a bit. It's functional, but I will definitely do it better next time. Turns out my sewing machine didn't really like hitting that little metal jobbie at the end of the zipper. Must pay more attention next time!


and again, against my grain and totally following a trend, I added a ruffle (maybe more of a pleat?).

and I like it.

small things

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sometimes it only takes a tiny thing to take something from old and tired to fresh and new.

Meet my gray wool cardigan that my mom bought me for my birthday several years ago. The binding was coming unattached at the back of the neck, so I hadn't worn it in ages. I knew I could stitch it up, but didn't think I could stitch it up very neatly, and though I used to be quite comfortable wearing holey clothes around (I went to college in the early 90s…grunge was hot), I felt maybe I ought to look a little bit more grown up and responsible than that these days!


So…I stitched it up, sloppy as can be, then sewed a ruffle to it to hide it. The ruffle was just a piece of ribbon left over from who knows what…probably some kind of gift wrap or packaging or something. I really don't know. I just sewed a long stitch right down the middle of the ribbon, without backstitching at either end, then grabbed a thread and pulled until it was all gathered and ruffled to my satisfaction. Then I pinned away and sewed it on.


And wore it. Once. Then I found that the collar was pulling away on the other side…time to do some more hand-stitching!


Below is a shirt/dress/tunic I got ages and ages ago…at the GAP outlet, judging by the slashed tag. Somehow I did once upon a time wear it as a dress. But it shrank and I grew, and now I can wear it with jeans…but no way can I get away with it by itself! The label says dry clean only, but I've been washing it all this time, so that probably explains much of the shrinkage. That may also explain the weird color shift the buttons have done. I think they were actually navy to match the dress when I bought it. I pulled it out of my summer clothes box the other day and wore it and realized that those buttons really looked dumb. I also realized that sewing a button on is not rocket science. So I found some lovely buttons at JoAnn Fabrics and viola! An updated tunic.




How many articles of clothing do you have that you haven't worn because they need a 10-minute repair?

Since first writing this post, I've also altered a dress (un-puffing some sleeves) and a skirt (de-bulking some crazy inverted pleats) that I'd been meaning to get to for ages. I've got pants to hem and another pair to sew a hook to…easy, small things that are way cheaper than going out and buying a new pair!

trying again

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Many many many years ago, a friend taught me to knit. She actually cast on for me, so I didn't learn that part, but I did learn how to knit and purl. And I knitted and purled off and on (mostly off) for years. Probably 5 or 6 years. On one scarf. Until another friend said "will you please give me your scarf so I can finish it for you and you can wear it?" So I did. You can totally tell which 2/3 of the scarf I knit, and which 1/3 of the scarf my friend knit. Lumps galore on my side.

I don't really know why, but recently I decided I wanted to learn to crochet. I mentioned this to my friend at my local quilt shop, who happens to be right next door to my local yarn shop. Long story short, I was convinced to give knitting another go before learning crochet.

So, my new friend at the yarn shop actually taught me how to cast on for myself, then walked me through the steps to creating a dishcloth, knitted on the diagonal, so I learned increases & decreases at the same time. My first attempt looked like a holey lumpy kite. Not even close to being the square it was meant to be. It's not a weird camera angle…it really looks like that!



But I felt like, towards the end, I was actually getting the hang of things. So I tried again. Don't mind my tails. I still need to weave those in. Or something.



And I think I've improved about 3000%. Although I have a long ways to go towards reaching knitting consistency! I think I'll make another dishcloth or two to keep practicing before I attempt something to wear or give as a gift.

more bibs and a hippo quilt

Monday, May 10, 2010

For those of you who are really into this blog for the photography, I really am going to try to intersperse all this sewing with some of my pretty pictures! Bear with me. And thanks for listening. Reading. Watching. Whatever.


I mentioned in a recent post that we've got two nieces on the way. Time to show you some of the things I've made for niece number two (numbered in sequence, not importance!). I made them before I knew she was a girl, so once again (see my first set here) I needed to go for gender neutrality. Which works out well, since her nursery is going to be bright primary colors…not much girly-girl pink and purple going on in her life, I'm thinking. We'll see when she gets here :)


The bibs are a variation I came up with using a basic pattern from Amy Karol's bend-the-rules sewing book. I embroidered the words, added a strip of the backing fabric to the front, and topstitched it all in bright orange. No need to be subtle about barf, spit and drool. One fat quarter of each fabric gave me plenty for the backing, the front strip and the ties for the bibs as well as coordinating burp cloths. Because when you can clean up barf with style, it makes it less gross, right?


In another nice coincidence (does the Spirit lead fabric choices??), I had picked up some fabric at IKEA and figured it would make a great blanket/quilt for a baby. And I knew that my brother and sister-in-law can handle some of my crazier color choices. Once I had the quilt done, I found out they were pretty much decorating the nursery with all IKEA stuff, so the lime green hippos will look right at home.


This is my cheaters baby quilt. I did zero piecing. Just sandwiched my front and back together and quilted away. I had tried free-motion quilting on placemats a while back, with some success and some frustration. I had since then taken a class at my wonderful local quilt shop and learned a couple things, so I thought this would be a great time to try it out on a slightly larger piece. I'm not sure I'd be able to do this on an even larger quilt…but then again, I never thought I'd even be making quilts at all.


I love pairing a crazy bright color with something neutral, like this grey dot. Without any piecing on either front or back, this turns into a reversible quilt. And at approximately 36"x36", it's just about the right size for a stroller.


After a trip through the wash, you end up with this fun crinkly texture.

I have found that the hand-sewing part of the binding goes much faster for me if I sit at a table to do it. I tried sitting on the couch and binding while watching TV, and it takes me forever to finish (maybe because I'm really only sewing during commercials!). If I put myself at the table and listen to podcasts, I can get a lot of binding done in much less time than I thought I could. It's still my least-favorite part of the whole process, though…maybe as I get better with the hand sewing, I'll like it better. We'll see.

tiny sundresses

Friday, April 30, 2010


I'm not sure where I first saw oliver + s mentioned, but somewhere, I ran across mention of a free pattern they were offering for a sundress. In my quest to learn how to sew, I must admit to being fairly cheap. I think I have only purchased one pattern so far. Most things I have made are from basic tutorials…some are simply measurements, some have free patterns you can download. Since I am a beginner, and bound to mess some things up along the way, I like it that there are so many free options out there for me to get my feet wet. If I find I enjoy making clothing, I can think about buying some patterns. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, once I found this free pattern, I knew I needed a victim (or two) so that I would be more motivated to actually finish the project. I got in touch with a friend back home and got sizes for her two girls (who are, quite possibly, the cutest little girls on the planet. I kid you not.). So, with a goal, and some fabric I had bought forever ago, and one Old Navy shirt that so did not fit me any more, I was ready to go!

Here they are, posing on the back of my Adirondack chair. The girls' mom tried to send me a photo of the girls in the dresses, but alas, my phone plan doesn't let me receive photos. I know. I'm in the dark ages.



I really like how simple the dress is…and how many options there are to make it your own design. It can be worn alone in warm weather, or layered over a shirt with a cardigan over it in the winter. You could do a pattern for the main part of the dress and solids for the top. You could add embroidery or applique or ruffles or whatever! I think it would be cool to use a daddy's old jeans to make dresses for his girls.

I have to say that the pattern (there's a link on the right side of the blog. it's called the popover sundress) was really very well written…as one would expect of some folks who are in the business of creating and selling patterns! I base my evaluation on the fact that I was able to follow it…not on any comparisons with other patterns I've used. It's been several months since I made the dresses, but I don't recall any real hassles I encountered. I would definitely consider purchasing one of their more involved patterns in the future, based on my experience with this one. And no, they aren't paying me to say that. They don't even know I exist!

baby girls

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I mentioned the nibling a while back, and that was before we knew that the nibling is actually a niece! Since the nursery is painted the color of a certain rather famous bear, and I was fortunate enough to find some fabric featuring that same bear, I whipped up a blanket & dress and a soft rattle block for her before heading up to the baby shower.

I have since found out that there is another niece on the way in my own immediate family…so there will be more baby girl sewing shown here shortly!




And, since babies seem to come with a whole lot of stuff, I made a little fabric basket to help corral the stuff.


I love it that so many crafty folks are posting free tutorials for fun thngs to make. I've linked above to the tutorials I used to make the dress, block & basket. Thank you to Made by Rae, London Mummy & The Sometimes Crafter for sharing your expertise with us!

The blanket was just a piece of quilting cotton & a piece of flannel sewn right sides together with space left to turn right side out, then finished with a decorative topstitch around the edges. No batting, no quilting…and I love the drape and feel of it with the flannel backing…it's a great lightweight blankie for the babe :)

oh…and here's some proof that sometimes I need to slow down and actually look at what I'm doing. I sewed the skirt on upside down the first time around!!

my bargain dress

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Anybody else out there like to browse around in TJ Maxx/Marshalls, searching for the crazy clearance items that are almost like them paying you to take things out of their store? I'm the girl wandering around muttering to herself, trying to figure out if three dollars is too much to pay for a picture frame with a scratch on a corner or no glass. (My husband would say yes, indeed, it IS too much, seeing as how we have no less than 40 picture frames [I just counted] propped up against the walls of our dining room, waiting for me to put them somewhere that makes sense).

But wait. This post doesn't have anything to do with picture frames. Notice the title. It says DRESS.

So, I was wandering around TJ Maxx this summer, hoping to find a dress to wear to a wedding in September. It's not that I didn't already have any dresses. I have a few. But none that were really wanting me to wear them to a wedding. Well, one would have been great, but that dang zipper won't go all the way up…what's up with that??

I have tried on a few dresses in TJMaxx by one particular designer/studio and really really liked the graphic design patterns of the dresses, and the fabric that drapes perfectly, and the colors and the styles…but just never wanted to spend $40 on a dress that I didn't really need for anything. Does that make me cheap? Frugal? Whatever. I couldn't do it.

But then…on the clearance rack…for no reason I could see…was one of those dresses.


You can see the "original" price here (I don't know where on earth they actually sell for a hundred and eighteen bucks!). You can see the great color combo, the great fabric pattern design, the fun understated ruffles…oh, and the plunging v-neck that threatened to expose my belly button for all the world to see!! Who wears these things like that?? I mean, really? Is that necessary? Drives me batty, sometimes, the secrets girls don't keep.

Moving right along. Do you see the clearance tag here? That says $10? That meant I had to try the dress on to see what could be done about it. Turns out it pretty much fit perfectly everywhere else.


And there was a double ruffle going all the way around the neckline, so I could do some discriminate snipping, and use the extra to fill in that crazy vee.


It took a little bit of sticky stuff to keep the ruffle together while I sewed it in place, and it's a good thing it's ruffley, so I didn't have to have it all perfect and everything, but I was quite pleased with my $10 bargain dress + an hour or so of effort. And I already had the perfect accessories (bought on clearance another time, another place, of course!)


And just so you know I do smile. I just didn't think my head was going to be in that picture when I took it! Here's me and my sweetie at the wedding. Don't we coordinate nicely? :)

the buttercup bag

Friday, October 30, 2009

If you frequent sewing blogs at all, you've probably seen the free pattern for the buttercup bag, created by Rae of Made by Rae. I tried my hand at it a few months ago with a fat quarter I had laying around. I love the colors in this fabric, and hope that I can find more of it one day. I'd love to build a quilt around these colors!


This first go-round, I didn't have a magnetic snap, so I didn't use any kind of closure at all. Since I was using quilting weight cotton, the bag is pretty floppy. But pretty :) and it went together easily…I only stumbled when it came to sewing the liner to the outside…I have a very hard time getting this step right! Something about how my brain is trying to see the end result, instead of trusting the instructions and just going with it.


It eventually came out just fine. Though I wish I had used brown thread to do the top stitching. It's in the back of my mind to rip it all apart and do the brown one of these days. We'll see.


My mom thought the bag was kind of cute, so when I was visiting her recently, she picked out some fat quarters for me to make one for her. Thanks to this tutorial I found, I decided to attempt a zipper closure. And it really wasn't all that hard. I also added interfacing to the outer fabric so the bag had a bit more substance and didn't just flop everywhere like my attempt number one.



I even made a flower pin to dress it up a bit.


And that's about all I can think of to say about that. :)

how to make a quilt (jen style)

Friday, October 16, 2009


1. Browse crafty quilting blogs for months, looking for inspiration.
2. Drool over all the really amazing fabrics that are out there to choose from.
3. Decide that you must start making a quilt. today. right now.
4. Drive to the Wal-Mart in the next town, since there are NO fabric stores in your town, and you've heard this WM is nicer than the one in your town.
5. Search WM high and low for fabric.
6. Find none, as for some reason WM has gotten rid of it's fabric department.
7. Fume.
8. Head to Goodwill.
9. Get 4 or 5 100% cotton mens shirts and a bed sheet.
10. Make quilt!

Okay, so I did eventually drive to Columbia to get fabric for the back and the binding, but the front of this quilt is made from old shirts and pillowcases and a bed sheet! If I don't immediately follow through on a creative urge, it never gets done. Heck, even when I do follow through on a creative urge, if it's something that takes more than an afternoon, it often doesn't get done.

Enough about my process. I finally gave the quilt to my dear friend (whose baby is only a few weeks away from arriving!).

So I can share the pics with you :)

1. Choose your pattern. I decided on the a baby sized stacked coin quilt. Inspiration aplenty is on Flickr. There's also a tutorial from Moda.

2. Choose your fabrics. I didn't really follow any one tutorial or set of directions. Just used my graphic design "skills" and a bit of math to figure out how many pieces to cut how large. Mom & Dad weren't finding out ahead of time if it's a girl or boy, so I tried to go generic without going the pea green & sunshine yellow route.


3. As I found out later, it pays to be really, really precise in your cutting. For the most part, I did good. A few times, though, my pieces were too small. I thought I'd just do smaller seams to make up the difference. It was a pain. And nothing lined up, really. But I didn't mind. And I don't think the baby will, either.

4. Lay out your pieces, try to make it look random yet balanced, then take a picture. The picture helped me keep sewing things together in the right order.


5. Don't lose your glasses. I'm officially old enough to need them for sewing and sometimes reading. How did that happen?


6. Basting a baby-sized quilt wasn't so bad. Not sure how I'll do if I ever graduate to a full-sized quilt!


7. Quilt it! This was actually fun. I didn't even try to keep my lines straight. I think this is my favorite part of quilting…the texture that the actual quilting process gives to the blanket. I used clear thread, since my front was so light and my back was so dark. I didn't really want the thread color to be showing. Though I sometimes like that look. My walking foot was vital to this step.


8. The binding wasn't all that bad. I used Heather Bailey's tutorial for this. I'm not great at the hand sewing part of it, but hopefully I'll improve with time.


9. Hunt around for a cute quilt model. Good thing for me, I live with one!




10. You have a quilt! Now wrap it up and give it away!


So, from the first photo I took of my materials to the final photo of the finished quilt, it was 3 months and 10 days. Somewhere in there, you just may find yourself waiting to get the right materials/tools for part of the quilt (my walking foot), so you'll have time to make a matching bib.