Children's clothes

Yep - still making those last minute gifts...
Even though Christmas was yesterday for most, it is tomorrow for me. That is when all my kids and grandkids arrive. The good news is that I have an extra day or two for sewing and then wrapping. I'm still working on some things for the two DGD's.

Both girls will receive Ottobre's "pants with frills" made with the Baby Nay stretch cord. These are pattern #14 from spring 2007. You can't tell in the picture, but the front pant leg is in two pieces so that the lower portion is gathered onto the upper portion. I like that detail for little girls. Also I like the slightly bohemian detail of gathering the lower hems. That way, I don't have to worry so much about pant length.

I didn't really take advantage of the fact that the fabric is stretch. But DGD #1 has two favorite colors - red and pink, so this is just the perfect fabric. Later I'll make jackets out of the coordinating stretch cord.

I decided to omit the frills from the pants and add pockets, using the coordinating stretch cord. I used the fussy-cut technique to cut out patches on the pattern. I tried to use one of those long plastic gizmos for inserting the elastic but it stretched the elastic so much I had to go buy new elastic. It may have been the elastic; it may have been the gizmo. The jury is still out on that plastic gizmo.

DGD #1 will also receive a wrap jacket from Ottobre's autumn 2006 edition (pattern #19). I made it with a very small piece of stretch velvet I bought in Leominster, MA (Sage Fabrics) last year. The ties are made from a fat quarter, cut on the bias. I used those cool tube-turning gizmo's to make them. Now that's a gizmo I really love.

It's so much fun to make these small garments. Everything looks cute in these sizes! I also have another small piece of pink stretch velvet from Sage. So DGD #2 will receive a jacket from that. I'm thinking of using Ottobre's spring 2007 pattern #5. It's just a little bolero with curved front pieces. It's not quite as current looking as that wrap jacket though. But it might be easier for a 21 month old to manage.

My Punk Rock Brother Sews

I had a great holiday and I hope you did too. I received a wonderful gift from the garbage this past weekend. We arrived at my mom's for our holiday celebration, I went immediately to her sewing room because that is were I tend to hide out during loud family gatherings, only to find it occupied by my younger brother. WHAT!! I adore my younger brother, he and his family are the subject of most of my personal photographic work, but time and alcohol have really separated us for the last 5 years.

He was sitting at a lime green Singer Sewing Machine, crowing over the fact that he pulled it out to garbage the day before and it would not even "turn over" (he is a mechanic) and now it was humming along. The machine is pretty beat up but his joy was so apparent that I was immediately draw in by his enthusiasm for sewing.

He had just finished his first pillow and wanted to make a shamrock pillow. We scoured through my mom's stash and found a great plaid and I showed him how to create a pattern with freezer paper so the curves would be easier and he was off and running, literally, his machine would not slow down, petal to the floor and no stopping for the curves.

By the end of the evening, the party was in the sewing room, it was amazing. My mom, my brother, my nephew (15 years old) and me all cackling away, giggling, sewing and having a great time. Fortunately, I brought some stuffing along to finish up the Cathedral Window ornaments because pillows were the project du jour. Brent finished up 3 pillows and Hadyn finished up a great looking hand / foot pillow.

Brent woke up the next morning saying he dreamed about a dress he wanted to sew. We were at his place yesterday and he showed me were he and Hadyn were going to set up a sewing room and he wants to come look at my fabric, he needs it all. There will be a trip to the sewing store in our future for notions, he needs lefty scissors. His birthday is next month and I know what I am getting him.

Not to be super cheese girl but seeing my brother sober and sewing was the best gift of my holiday.

Cathedral Windows and Yo Yo Ornaments

Handmade for the holidays is hard. 
This past weekend I was at a very slow show and I managed to make 120 plus yo yos to string into wreaths and I found a cool ornament in our holiday stuff that I made about 6 years ago using the  Cathedral Windows block. 

The yo yos are made using the large Clover yo yo maker, stringing about 20 of them together and tying them up tight.  I think they need some noise, like jingles or maybe just some ribbon.
The Cathedral Windows Ornament is a bit harder to explain but I started with 2 nine inch squares of fabric, which I sewed up like you would start a CW quilt. I need to refine them a bit but if there is an interest I will try to post some how to pictures.

UpCycling - Better than Recycling

At one of my Yahoo groups there has been a great discussion about UpCycling or using trash to make something even better. There are a lot of great artists who incorporate this idea into their art, Pablo Picasso pops into my head as one.

This past weekend we were gathering up our recycling to make a trip to the center and my DH mentioned he (me) would need to get his office gifts into order, in the past he has given tins full of candy. Earlier this year, like 2 months ago, I offered to use my SUPER COOL newest toy, a Grand Mark AccuCut, to make the boxes for him. As we were breaking down stuff to put in the truck he said, "Can't we use some of this cardboard you get fabric in for the boxes." I responded that the AccuCut would crush it, but I had an idea that the cereal boxes and the cola boxes would work. AND they did!! so here is some UpCycling for the holiday.

Merry Christmas world. Hopefully folks will keep these around after the holiday as a novelty piece but since DH works at a very environmentally conscious place I know if they end up trash again they will be recycled.

last minute gift - placemats

Not too long ago, I discovered a quick, satisfying project that allows me to use up some of my fabric without committing to a huge project, like a quilt. Placemats. It's a nice simple creative outlet for crazy times like December.

Materials (for 4 placemats)*:
1 yard quilt batting or flannel
1 yard for placemat fronts
1 yard for placemat backs
2/3 yard for binding fabric

For myself, I prefer to mix and match fabrics to create a funky dinner layout. But right now, I'm making those last minute gifts. So the fabric combinations aren't quite as off beat. I used red-and-green paisley for one side; Christmas trees for the other. The binding is shiny gold.

From each of the placemat fabrics and the batting, I cut rectangles that are about 15 X 18. There was no need to be overly precise, because after I quilted the 3 layers of each together, I squared up the corners before binding.

The quilting is really one of the best parts of this project. I put on one of my favorite December CD's - Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Chrismas Attic. Now this is an important aspect of constructing these last-minute-Christmas-gifts, so if you try this, be sure to select music you love.

I put some variegated green-and-red thread in the needle of my machine; gold metallic thread in the bobbin and inserted my walkin' foot. Then I just gently stitched waves down the length of each placemat, sometimes just rotating it at the end and starting back in the other direction. The goal is to have no goal. That is, I enjoyed gently guiding the fabric in long unplanned curves, allowing them to cross.

Then I stay-stitched about 1/4" from each edge and took it to my cutting board to square up the corners. I tried to make the placemats a consistent size - about 14x17. Then I cut the binding 2" wide because I didn't think I'd have enough of it to go with my usual 2.5" wide binding. I also made the binding single thickness, since this isn't exactly an heirloom project.

So now I have some hand sewing left to finish the binding. This is TV-watching or car-riding stuff. I have a bit of both coming up soon.

*When I have made the funky versions for myself, I need only about a fat quarter of each fabric. This is a fun way for me to use a small piece of fabric I just need to play with.

Cleaner, Greener, New Year!

In the spirit of handmade gifts, I have been giving my friends homemade cleaning products! What does cleaning have to do with sewing? Well I do believe most sewists (clean, can't call them sewers!) have some common traits. We all love fabric. We all love good food. We all love making things, whether it be dinner, clothes, quilts, cleaning products, etc. We all love being at home mostly because that is where our hearts are and our sewing machines.

A sewing sister showed me this book Clean House Clean Planet and now I am obsessed with making the perfect smelling, perfectly green, absolutely cheap, cleaning product. I do love being at home with my 2 girls and I want my home to be a haven and a safe respite from the crazy outside world. These products are made with common household ingredients, mainly baking soda, vinegar, and casteel soap. They are non-toxic and won't bleach the clothing I work so hard to finish. They are scented with essential oils. My latest is a mandarin and clove scented all purpose spray. It makes my kitchen smell delicious! Best of all, they really do work. The soft scrub type product is fabulous and I don't have to worry about traces of it left in the tub harming my kids.

So why not give the gift of a clean, green house this Christmas? You can add a little apron to your bottle and if really motivated, machine embroider the ingredients on it! Have a clean, green, and perfectly non-toxic Christmas!

Made by Others !

Cool Stuff I purchased at local artist sales.

I don't know who the artist is on these pots. I will take a look see on their bottoms.

Love this bug!! Kathy Walton is the artist name.

Need to look up this artist too. These were actually purchased for my 10th anniversary, but I am hoping I will get some more flowers for the holiday.

Handmade by ME!

Works in progress.

Working toward the GOAL - Handmade Holiday

I am feeling pretty good about the upcoming Holiday. I made the pledge to do a handmade holiday. Friday I took the girls to the school to work on clay angels and ornaments. It was a disaster, of sorts. I think any time you take your kids to do something you love to do by yourself you are setting yourself and them up for frustration. They were fairly good about listening, but try explaining waiting for clay to get leather hard before moving the ornaments or how to slip and score clay so their amazing sculptures don't die in the kiln. I went back on Saturday, mostly to clean up, but I was seduced by the silence and started to make a few small things. All of the sudden it was noon and I needed to get home. I can't wait for tomorrow to check on all of our work and begin to load the kiln.

I continued with the good work on Saturday, I cut out the cutest doll from a great new book I just picked up called, Toys to Sew. The doll has the longest legs I have every seen, way cute, as are most of the projects in the book. It is a MUST HAVE!!!

I found an old pattern I clipped from a 1985 Quilter Mag from my mom, supposed to be a guardian angel. I am going to rework the pattern and make her seated, she looks goofy flying.

AND last I drew up a cute kitty to make into ornaments. We have a bunch of kitty lovers in our family. All of the photos are of the patterns in natural. I will use printed fabric on the final projects.

I went to 2 great holiday sales in the past 2 weeks, "The Work of our Hands" and "E*L Sapo" I found some great things at both of them. There is another artist market at Chastain Art Center, that I hope to sneak off to this week.


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