Sunday, November 30, 2008


Just lookie at what was falling from the sky most of today...

Nothing accumulating, just pretty flakes. Snow makes me happy! Must be the native St. Louis-ian in me. ;)

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Lots of turkey & other yummies. AND we put up our tree, a Thanksgiving tradition at our house. The kids & I have always put the tree up Thanksgiving night, while watching Home Alone. We absolutely love that movie! It never gets old!

A couple of my favorite spots on the tree...

blown glass Santas & clothespin skater

tiny needlepoint stocking

I started a new project too. Taking a tiny break from Christmas gifts to clear my mind & renew the creative juices! Sometimes I get "stale" if I do one project or focus for several days. I know, I'm a weirdo. Sue me! :P

What I really need in my closet are some basic, woven shirts. Perfect under jackets or on their own, with skirts or trousers or jeans...You can't go wrong with a white shirt. Or a white shirt that's not white but a fun cotton print. (And we all know I have a ton of those!)

I've been steering clear of wovens lately for myself because I'm lazy. There. I admitted it. I don't want to fool with fitting. Then while I was clearing off the sewing table & putting patterns in order yesterday I ran across this Threads Simplicity shirt:

This baby has built in B-C-D cups, 2 collar & hem variations and 3 sleeve variations. Plus 2 different fronts...a contrast bib and a plain. AND there are darts in the back, which add another fitting dimension to play with. So no more excuses!

My pattern is cut out (yes, StickGirl, that does count as working on it. :P) and I've got (hopefully) wearable muslin fabric ready to pin. My muslin fabric is a really pretty teal green/blue paisley print that I've had since Lu was 2 or 3. It was supposed to be a smocked dress. Whoops.

Anywho, if I have success with the muslin, I envision lots of adaptations in my future. Like this ruffly striped version from J.Crew:

How incredible is the cuff on this shirt?!

And I even have that perfect dark red/navy striped shirting from a recent fabric buying trip:

And of course I need to make use of those pretty woven cottons I've got stashed everywhere. I can see a mandarin collar, short puff sleeve version in this:

And maybe a polka dot version...yellow & white? Or green & white? Or black & cream? You know, really once you do the legwork on a pattern like this, its worth all the hassle & tears and wasted muslins. Sometimes I forget that & go straight for the BWOF knit tops.

So, first muslin. Next, more little gifts. I've got another little tute/freebie I hope to get worked up for you in the next few days so stay tuned! This one's for the geek in your life.

Parting snow shot...


The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued
--Robert Frost

song for the day

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

dresden petal handbag - a tutorial

Have a lot of really sweet scraps lying around? I do!! I could barely sleep last night because this little bag design was in my head. Isn't it fabulous?

For you, my sewing buddies, I decided to give you an early Christmas gift & make the pattern & tutorial available here! This one's picture heavy, but I promise, it's worth it!

Here's the only pattern piece, a modified Dresden petal. Click the image below for a full-size template (but you can resize as you like!)
I used 7 different fat quarter scraps, (cut 2 of each) but you could certainly use fewer. There's lots of room for individuality with this one! Seam each one with 1/4" seams, 7 for the front & 7 for the back (s/a is included on the template.)

Press seams open!

Use a large plate or other round edge to draw the curved edge of the top of the bag.

Trim on your traced line!

Lay the newly trimmed purse body onto the untrimmed body & trace your curve so that it matches. Trim away!

Don't throw those pieces away! They'll come in handy a little later.

Press fusible fleece onto both body pieces. Cut the fleece a little bit smaller than the purse body to help with bulky seams (Again, I made use of the washaway marker rather than trace a pattern piece for this. That ensured a perfect fit!)

Now the fun part! I channel stitched the entire purse front & back, effectively"quilting" it. Looks very cool. You could skip this part, or free motion quilt, or stitch in the ditch, etc.

My curved edge was a little TOO curved, and elf-ear pointy at the edges. So I trimmed a bit away like so:

Next, use your quilted body piece to trace 2 lining pieces. Wait until you finish quilting (if you do so) because your body piece will shrink just a bit in the process. You don't want your lining to be too big!

If you like, add fusible interfacing to the lining piece as I did for more body. (Again, I trimmed away a bit all around before fusing to decrease bulky seams.

Now, remember those circular edge pieces we saved? Get them out. We're making pockets! I trimmed them to the size I wanted (a small pocket for a cell phone and a larger pocket for lip gloss or keys, etc.)

Cut linings to size!

Sew right sides together, leaving a little opening on the side to turn right sides out. Press well & pin in place on your lining. Stitch in place close to the edge around sides & bottom. Note that I also added a magnetic clasp at this stage.

Any other scraps you have lying around (I never throw any bits & pieces away until I'm completely finished with a project!) are perfect to make 4 little tabs for the purse handles. I just pressed edges in and topstitched. These are also interfaced.

I had to measure carefully so my tab would fit in the handle opening! I also tried them out before stitching in place to make sure they were long enough (but not TOO long.) You'll actually match the raw edges to stitch in place (handles & tabs hanging down).

Stitch tabs & handles in place, lining front & back up carefully so they match. The next part I didn't photograph (because I forgot! HA!) But I sewed the purse body (RST) starting at one side, around bottom, and up the next side (keep the handles out of the way! They're permanently attached now.)

Do the same for the linings, except leave a nice size opening in the bottom. You have to be able to fit the handles through the opening, so it will be larger than what you're used to in this situation! My opening is about the same width as the handle.

I also did some diagonal stitching to box the corners of the bag & lining, but I forgot to photo that too. I sorta suck. Sorry!

Now with your purse right side out and your lining wrong side out, slide the purse into the lining (they will end up right sides together.) See below for a visual. Stitch carefully around the entire top of the bag. Trim seam allowance!

Reach through the opening & turn your bag right sides out. We're almost done! You can hand slipstitch the opening in the lining, OR if you're like me, just machine stitch it. It's hardly noticable. Press the top edges REALLY well. It's a bit bulky at this stage, but we'll fix that with topstitching.

I added a fairly narrow topstitch around the entire top edge. It was tricky keeping the handles out of the way, but I managed!

And that's it! You're finished! Here's a peek at one of the cute little pockets:

And one more shot of the finished product!

Now go! Sew some bags & make me proud! :)

ps...I can't say who this is for since you never know who might be reading!! That's going to be a recurring theme in the next few weeks!

pps...To all my American friends & readers:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Thank you SO much for all the well-wishes & emails! MWAH! I had a fabulous birthday. I got flowers and jewelry and Bare Minerals lip gloss and Philosophy Amazing Grace lotion and baking stuff and cash... And my mom & dad picked up my favorite treat (don't laugh): A Pepperidge Farms coconut layer cake. I have always LOVED that little cake. Yum.

Whew. And you know what? I don't feel one iota older. :D

I did finish up two more little gifts for the Christmas Hoard. Here is the shabby rose wristlet, using my favorite Durham blue rose print.

I didn't really use a pattern, but I did read a couple different zipper insertions and just picked my favorite (which was also the most common out there on the net.) I eyeballed the measurements. Here's what I used to get the contrast bottom band:
Top Portion - 8.5 x 5 inches
Bottom Band - 8.5 x 2.5 inches
Lining - 8.25 x 7 inches

I finished the Holiday Door Ornament from SWAK Embroidery. Isn't it CUTE?! Don't forget, the pattern & embroidery design can be found HERE.

I left off the fringe on the bottom, but I might add some to the next one. I also added some hot fix crystals to the centers of the snowflakes for some bling:

I'm off for the rest of the week, so hopefully I'll get lots and lots done!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Poor little blog. Where did the week go? And the week before that? It's nearly the end of November!! Yikes.

I haven't had any garment sewing happening the past week. Not much sewing of any sort in fact. Until today! I kicked my buns in gear, because I have lots of little gifts to stitch up and not a lot of time left to do it.

First up, I started a quilted table runner for my mom. (She doesn't read the blog so there's no spoiling going on here by show & telling.) I'm using the Debbie Mumm Christmas Wishes Year-Long Sampler patterns.

This is the first block I finished, "Friendship" (March). I won't be using the Christmas blocks, since I want it to be for every day.

Don't look tooo closely! I'm not exactly a quilter (yet!) One block down, 4 to go! The nice thing about this project is that every block is different so I won't get bored (that's partly why I'm not a quilter...I have short attention span!)

Then I stuck some fabric in an embroidery hoop to stitch up this cute little Freebie from SWAK Embroidery:

It stitched out perfect! And it was very fast too, less than 10 minutes. Make sure you visit the site to download both the embroidery design & the free project sheet to make this cute little hanging ornament (or hang it off a cabinet knob or dresser drawer or door knob...etc etc.)

I picked up the cutest fabric Saturday to finish an aqua/red version.

These are Urban Chick's 1974 by Moda. Aren't they great?? There were 5 or 6 prints at the quilt shop and I had a hard time choosing just 3. I'll probably be making several of these little hanging ornaments. They're so cute & will make a great teacher/have on hand gift.

I also started a sweet wristlet from leftover Durham fabrics. I used this tutorial for instructions: Splityarn Wristlet Tutorial. There are a bunch of wristlet tutorials out there on the net, so if you don't like this one (it's short & to the point!) you can probably find a more detailed one. Or if you can't, let me knbw & I'll point you in the right direction!

That's it for me this weekend! I've got a couple more projects up my sleeves this week while I'm on Thanksgiving break (only 1 more day of school for me! I'm as bad as the kids but...Yippee!!) For one thing, StickGirl must have a scarf (SG, I got an amazing charm pack for it at Guthrie's!) And two totes, and a couple more wristlets, and some pj pants, and 2 hoodies, and some lace ornaments, and....

You get the picture.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This is the second half of the birthday gift for my sister, a scrappy patchwork scarf:

I was inspired by the scarves in Denyse Schmidt's Quilts book (which I don't own, but have thumbed through.) My scarf interpretation isn't quite as piecey and elaborate, but still quite cute!

I used 6 Amy Butler fat quarters, cut into 5" squares. Charm packs would be a great timesaver for this project! I just had my heart set on unmatched Amy Butler prints (that still "go"). I seamed the long strip of squares until I reached my desired length. Since I wanted the scarf to be extra long (to loop around the neck with flair), I made this scarf approximately 65" long.

Seams were pressed open, and a long strip of vintage white chenille was stitched right sides together for a backing. Turn & topstitch all around to finish. If I had had more time (I procrastinated just a bit on this one) I would have loved to handstitch an applique initial on one end, a'la Laverne. I also would have done some quilting stitches all along the scarf.

Still, it is awfully cute as is!! One more shot of Lu wearing the scarf before wrapping commenced...

And here's the birthday girl with a coffee filter hat brought out by the restaurant staff while singing the birthday song:

To my sister, who grabbed the nearest Louisville Slugger & chased a bully down the streets of a St. Louis suburb when he made me cry, who took my 5-week old baby home when I was hospitalized for 10 days and mothered him when I couldn't, who keeps a picture of me in her kitchen, me at four wearing a red poncho and crooked little glasses (probably how she will always think of me) Desiree. Happy Birthday!