[completed] summer skirts

first garment ever made by me
A few days ago, I found a pin on my mother's pinterest of great skirt tutorials. I decided to try one out - a (seemingly) easy gathered skirt. My attempt at a skirt failed miserably. I sewed and ripped out stitches and resewed and ended up with a confused pile of fabric. 
Undeterred, I googled "easy skirt tutorial", and found this tutorial on the Etsy blog. I decided to try it out, but instead of buying more fabric, I riffled through my stash, and found a one yard remnant in a pretty floral pattern. I followed the directions to a T, and found the instructions far simpler (and easier) to understand than the first pattern I tried.
I ended up with the skirt you see above - a simple gathered skirt with an elastic waist. Very casual and fun. 

Today, I bought a few more fabrics to try out some variations on the pattern. And I ended up with...

A lined brown polka dot skirt with pockets. It took me about an hour and a half to complete, from cutting to photographing. I adjusted the pattern to make the skirt slightly shorter (a change I did not like), and to add a lining and pockets. (I used the instructions from the first pattern for the pockets. The pattern does not include a template, so my freehand pockets are too shallow). I figured out how to add the lining on my own through trial and error.

it's lined!
In the end, I used just under a yard of the brown polka dot fabric and the brown lining fabric. I used knit elastic instead of woven elastic, which did made my life more difficult. But I managed!

The instructions say to stitch the hem just the once, but I did two lines of stitching 1/4 inch apart to make it look a little more "handmade, not homemade", as you can see below.

I will be posting a tutorial on how to make a lined, pocketed gathered skirt just like this one in a few days. For now, I am off to wear my new skirts (not both at once, of course) and enjoy the summer heat!

skirt! a little above the knee!
awesome tshirt and skirt


[wip] tshirt memory quilt part deux

scrappy scraps
Yesterday, I trimmed all the T-shirts for the memory quilt I am making for my cousin, and also cut all the sashing fabrics. I stuck with the colors I was told he prefers: grey, red, and blue, but I also added black and white because the pattern I am following calls for five different fabrics. Because the T-shirts all have lettering and designs of their own, I decided to stick with solid fabrics for the accent fabrics. (Also, because it is hard to find boy-appropriate printed fabrics! The industry really needs to recognize the fabric needs of the male population.)

It was so nerve-wracking to cut into those t-shirts (what if I made a mistake? It's not like I can just run out and buy more!), but I was careful and luckily it all went well. The pattern calls for more sashing fabric than I actually needed, so I might add a border to the quilt. We'll see when I'm done assembling the quilt top. I've already started piecing the quilt together, but no photos just yet. My cousin obviously knows I am making this quilt for him, but I am hoping for the final product to be something of a surprise!


[wip] tshirt quilt

pile o' tshirts
 Today, I decided I needed to take a break from my wip super secret present quilt, and start another quilt on my to-do list: a T-shirt memory quilt for my cousin. I've actually had the T-shirts sitting around for awhile now, but couldn't decide on a design for the quilt (or find the courage to cut into these precious shirts). Today, I achieved both - I settled on a design, and I cut up the shirts!

The design I am going to use is in the Fall 2012 issue of Quilts & More, my favorite quilting magazine. I always buy this magazine for the multiple quilting patterns included, and this issue just happened to have a pattern for a fun, different T-shirt quilt. I bought it yesterday, and have been wrestling with the design ever since. It's not exactly the size I wanted, but the nature of the design makes it very difficult to adjust to a bigger size. It's an extra-long twin size, and I've decided that is acceptable.

So, after selecting the 21 shirts I wanted to use, I sliced into the shirts!

all cut and ready to be interfaced
 Now I need to interface all the shirt pieces, trim them to the appropriate sizes, and start sewing!

not my usual pretty pile of scraps


one step forward, two steps backward

look at all that wasted thread
I am (still) working on that super secret present quilt. I'm in the quilting stage of things, but unfortunately had a bit of a threading mishap today that I didn't catch until I'd sewn for miles. So I had to rip out all that bunchy, loopy, terrible stitching, and ended up with a pile of thread. There's my ergonomic thread ripper for size comparison. What a waste of time (and thread). Lesson learned: check the back of a quilt frequently while quilting!


fun at the fair

a beautiful (scary) amusement ride
Yesterday, I went to the state fair with my hubby and two of our friends. It was definitely not what I had expected, but we had a good time wandering around and trying to win goldfish (a carnival game I only thought existed in movies). Sadly, no goldfish went home with us, but I snapped a lot of pretty photographs in the pretty hazy sunset light. We didn't actually ride any of the amusement rides I took pictures of - I think these potential deathtraps are best seen from a distance. Especially the ferris wheel - what a scary concept!

Before we went to the fair, my new friend Jessica and I made progress on our work-in-progresses and made a delicious Greek lemon cake. Today, I finished that quilt top WIP. Sadly, it's a super secret present, so no photos! Yet, anyway.

Now I am going to start something new that I can actually document!


[completed] sally the snail baby quilt

Sally the Snail
 Remember this quilt top? Well, it has become this baby quilt! This quilt is the same pattern and size as Sidney the Snail quilt, but has a different feel (I think). I made this one with a pink and blue houndstooth snail with a yellow snail and pink borders. I made the binding out of white, pink and yellow scraps. I love a scrappy binding!

detail of the quilting
 I did free-motion quilting in the center of the snail, and quilted hearts and spirals. The shell is simply quilted with straight lines in the ditch and then also echoing the seams. The pink borders are free-motion quilted with stippling.

the back 
I used fabric I already had for the backing (so in total, I used two yards and five fat quarters for this quilt), making this quilt another inexpensive finish. I had to rip out miles of free-motion quilting in the borders because the fabric puckered super badly. It was very annoying, but I think the end result is worth the trouble. A puckered back (especially in a striped fabric!) just isn't acceptable.

detail of the quilting on the back
You can see the shape of the snail on the back (although that stripe is a little dizzying in photos), and then the hearts and spirals in the center.

This is my second finish for today, and it feels great!

[completed] sidney the snail baby quilt

sidney the snail
Altogether too early this morning, I finished the Sidney the Snail baby quilt by attaching the green and orange binding. The quilt finishes at 34 x 35 inches, which makes it definitely a baby quilt. 

I tucked a "craft the pain away" label into the edge of the binding, which I think looks really cute and more subtle than just stitching it on. My new friend suggested that I use some orange in the binding to pick up the oranges in the paisley fabrics. I think that was a great idea!

new way to attach lables
The entire quilt was made using fabrics from my stash! I didn't purchase anything for this quilt, which felt great. I still have lots of the paisley fabrics left over, so you might see them again. I chose a green print for the backing. In person, you can clearly see all the quilting lines - the spiral in the shell, and then the organic (ie, not straight) lines across the yellow.

the back
 Here is a closeup of the quilting, so you can see how "organic" it really is. I used my darning foot and free-motion quilted all of the spiral, and then used the walking foot to do the straight(ish) lines.

closeup of the quilting
Overall, this quilt was quick and fun to complete!


[completed] color wheel dresser

Today, I finally finished my dresser! I just put the hardware on, and now it's done! At last!

I haven't been working on it much lately - I finished all the painting awhile ago. On Sunday, Adam and I and my new friend moved the dresser into the sewing room. It was Adam's idea to move it, because he wanted a surface to puzzle on (you can just barely see the puzzle mat along the top of the dresser - the dresser top isn't quite wide enough, so we are using my cutting mat to do the puzzle on).

Yesterday, I finished spray-painting the original hardware a glossy white, and this morning, I put all the hardware on. I am so glad that my mother suggested that I spray-paint the hardware white - I was originally planning on silver, but the white looks even better. It matches the body of the dresser, and looks so fresh and fun. I was going to use new hardware, but this looks awesome, and was so much cheaper!

As you can see, the dresser is painted with the primary, secondary and tertiary colors. If you go up the dresser, the primary colors mix to make the secondary colors, and then mix again with the secondary colors to create the tertiary colors. So the yellow and red make orange, and then yellow plus orange make yellow-orange at the top. Clever, right? All credit for this idea goes to Adam. We are going to use the dresser to teach our future children the colors. In the meantime, it looks awesome and fun. I love colorful things!

As previously mentioned, the top of the dresser is painted with chalkboard paint. We've tested it, and it works great. Took a lot of coats, but so worth it! (I have a lot of the chalkboard paint, and I'm on the lookout for more things to paint with it)

There are a few minor touch-ups that I need to do still, but overall, the dresser is finished, and I love it! Now I just need the contact paper to come in so I can line the dresser drawers and actually start using it...


[completed] sally the snail quilt top

pretty in pink

A few days ago - the same time I completed sidney the fabulous snail quilt top - I made another snail quilt top. This is the Sally the snail quilt top. I originally had all the sashing and borders done in white, but it just didn't look very good, so I replaced the white with a solid pink that I had on hand. Unfortunately, the left edge of the snail shell (which is a textured pink fabric) blends pretty closely with the solid pink. Oh well!

Like with Sidney, I gave Sally the snail a face. Adam helped me to design the simple appliqu├ęd facial features. I like the blue houndstooth eyeball the best. The white is actually a white-on-white print, although it is hard to tell in photos.

looking up
Overall, these two quilt tops were fast and fun to stitch up. This Sally version only took 1 yard of pink and five fat quarters - with scraps to spare. A nice, quick and inexpensive project!


[completed] sidney the fabulous snail quilt top

see Sidney?
Today I made a baby (36 x 36) quilt top! The pattern is from Dare to Be Square, a book I am loving more everyday. The instructions in the book are super clear and helpful. I highly recommend it. This is the second pattern I've followed from this book (I also made a placemat), and I am seriously in love.

The whole top - from cutting to pressing to sewing to more pressing to finished - took about two hours. Not too shabby, right? Really, the most time-consuming part of this quilt is all the pressing that is required to have the top lay smooth and flat.

Isn't Sidney (yes, I named the snail) just fabulous in all his paisley glory? I can't wait to finish this quilt!


[completed] birthday blocks and rings

birthday presents!

Do you have any recollection of this baby quilt? No? Well, I made it almost exactly a year ago for the birth of Adam's cousin's baby. In a few short days, that baby will turn one year old! To celebrate, I sewed up some soft fabric baby blocks and rings for her. I followed (roughly) this tutorial for the rings, and this tutorial for the blocks. Not that you even really need a tutorial!

The fabrics are the leftover scraps from the quilt, so everything will be nice and coordinated!

fabric baby blocks and rings


[tutorial] grow capsule animal mobile

Today I am going to show you how to make a quick, cute and inexpensive mobile!

1. Gather supplies!
You will need grow capsules (found at any major store in the toy section, and also often in the dollar sections), scissors, a hand needle, clear thread, and half an embroidery hoop (luckily I had a broken one just waiting to be used!)
2. "Grow" your capsules!

drop capsules in warm water
 3. Watch the animals (or whatever shapes you have) appear!
and watch them grow!
 4. Continue watching. It takes awhile.
there's a lion!
 5. Squeeze out the excess water and allow your spongy animals to dry.
let the sponge animals dry
6. Thread the needle with an arbitrary length of clear thread. 
7. Gently slide the needle through the center of the back of a randomly selected animal shape, so it will hang nicely. 
8. Tie the other end of the length of thread to the embroidery hoop with a double-knot.
9. Repeat for all the animals.

Sassy wants to eat my animals while I work 
 10. Tie three extra-long strings to the embroidery hoop equal distances apart. Tie a knot of the three strings together.

 Hang and enjoy!
completed mobile!

NB: Clear thread is slippery and difficult to see. For an easier equally cute alternative, use strands of colored embroidery floss!

[wip] dresser colors

it's getting there!
Here is (another) update of my dresser. Now you can begin to get a sense of how it is going to look finished! I'm still working on the six colors for the top drawers (but I only have two left to do!), and I have yet to paint the dresser body the glossy white. But the primer is close enough in color to get a sense of the final look. The chalkboard top is done, and Adam tested it last night. It works great!

You can definitely see the corners/edges that I didn't repair, but it doesn't bother me. This dresser will get knocked around plenty in the future, and I kind of like the imperfect look. It's supposed to be fun and functional, not sophisticated and perfect.

I am so excited! Now if only it would cool off so I could paint more...

[completed] decoupage picture frames

black and white
On Monday, I had an awesome craft day with my new friend. We stopped at Wal-Mart to gather supplies, and she found these awesome sets of hanging wood frames. The frames were simple undecorated wood, and my friend suggested that we decoupage the frames with scrapbook paper. I picked up a pack of black, white and grey printed papers, and we were off!

This is the result! It took way longer than I had expected to cut out and mod podge the pieces of paper on the frames, but I love the result. (Hers turned out even cuter than mine, but sadly I didn't take any pictures!) We watched Mulan while we crafted. It was a great time!

I already had a set of six square black and white photos just sitting on a shelf. I recently got rid of the cheapo Target frames the pictures had been in, and was at a loss for what to do with them. This project was perfect for them! I chose three of the six photos - one each of my mother and my sisters. I plan to get another set of the frames and do the whole process again (but different, of course) for the other three photos.
look how pretty my family members are!

P.S. The mirrored bug? $0.25 at Michael's. Isn't it cute?