Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quilt Books

If you are not a quilter, I apologize in advance for this post ... because it's really quilt-y. ha!

My sister in law and her mom are quilters. I love that about them. I especially love that it makes them easy to make gifts for. ;o) I always know that they will appreciate anything that I sew for them, but especially if it has to do with quilting! So ... this year, for Christmas (and for mama's birthday), I made them each a quilt book. My mom had one of these for when she started her Southern Album Quilt, and I have used it often when assembling my own quilts. It's basically a big (like 18inch square) "book" with fabric pages, so that you can lay out the pieces of your quilt blocks and keep them from being strewn all over the place while you are working on them. It's also a great way to store your quilt blocks until you are ready to sew them together ... it keeps them flat and wrinkle-free, and doesn't take up much space at all.

Anyway ... here are some pictures.

This is Suzanne's quilt book. I saw this fabric at Hancocks and *had* to have it. It's so much fun.
My dad cut 1/4 inch plywood squares to slip in the front & back covers, so the books wouldn't be floppy. What a nice guy!

See the pages ... I made them out of quilter's flannel, so that the cotton quilt block pieces would "stick" on them. I think there are about 12 pages in each book.

I love personalizing things with initials.

Here's Mama's book ... that's an "M" for Mary Anne, not Mama. ;o)

A close-up of the button closure. I used one of my mom's vintage buttons.

I put a little 1/8 inch strip of red fabric in all the seams on the front, just to set off the patchwork. Is there a name for this? I don't know ... but it made it look more fun to me.

So, now I'm debating if I should make another quilt book for myself ...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Curtains for Sarah Jane

My friend Sarah Jane asked me to make curtains for her. It was super-fun going and picking out fabric with her. I love the brown & blue combo in her bedroom, and I think these curtains tie the room together. Most especially, I love that she picked out a pattern that isn't super feminine, so that her husband can really enjoy the room just as much as she does. yay!

Now ... on to the pillows!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ...

I'm not really a Scrooge. Honest, I'm not. But, ever since I graduated from college and have been out on my own, I have decided against decorating my house for the holidays. Everybody I know thinks I'm weird. I typically enjoy making my house a home and spending time on "crafty" projects. I should love Christmas decorating, right? Wrong. The problem I have with it is that I hate going through all the effort of decorating when I'm just going to turn around and take everything down a few weeks later. I'm sure if I had a family of my own it would be very different, but with just me, it's a lot of effort. And, besides ... I'm rarely home during the holidays ... opting instead to be at my brother's house, or my dad's house.

But, (hear the angels singing hallelujah in the background) this year is different. My friend Cynthia insisted that I have a tree this year. Not only that, she came over and helped me decorate it. We made an evening of it ... I made soup. She brought wine and made yummy authentic Italian garlic bread. It was great. And the result ... my house looks (and smells) like Christmas, and - for the first time since my mom died 6 years ago - it makes me happy.

Here's the whole tree ... Halfway through decorating it, Cynthia & I noticed that I only had red ornaments on it. Hysterical. I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm a freak about red stuff, huh?

Here are some of my very favorite ornaments ... some new, some old. All dear to my heart.

I am addicted to Starbucks. Enough said.

This is one of the ornaments my Great Aunt Germaine made me growing up. She is the reason I now make a Christmas ornament every year for my friends & family.
Gotta keep the tradition alive!

This is my 2006 (I think) ornament ... in memory of my mom. I actually made the same ornament in like 5 different fabric combos ... This one is my favorite.
Because of the red, of course.

My sister-in-law's mom (AKA "Mama") made me this last year ... LOVE the red & white!

This is one of my grandmother's vintage hand-painted ornaments. Dad generously gave it to me a couple of Christmases ago so that I would have something of hers. I love it.

No tree of mine is complete without a touch of Paris.

This was my all-time favorite ornament growing up. She's made of corn-husks, and I always thought she was the most beautiful ornament ever. Seriously. She always went in the same place on the tree every year ... right up near the angel on top. Scottie has a matching one ... I guess it's her husband.

And, to top it all off ... the angel. This is the tree topper that I grew up with. It was always a thrill to put it on top of the tree. Dad would lift Scottie or me up to finish off the decorations. She isn't in the best shape anymore, but she's still special to me.

I'm taking some time off to spend with friends & family, so I'll see you after the holiday!
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Doll for Faith

My friend Emily's niece, Faith, needed a new doll for her birthday, and I was happy to make one for her. Emily picked out the fabric ... a happy blue with little white daisies. Lovely. I love how bright and cheery she turned out. Here are some pictures ...

I used a vintage button from my mom's stash to embellish her collar.

She has soft flannel skin and hair, and a cotton dress. Her face is hand-stitched.

I admit I'm a little jealous of her yellow shoes ... too much fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Black & White

My friend Jodi asked me to make some reusable bags recently. She wasn't sure what fabric she wanted, so I told her we could go to the fabric store and pick some out especially for her. Of course, neither of us knew how dangerous that would be. You see, Jodi & I live in a black & white world. Color very seldom enters into our existence, except - of course - for the red that appears regularly in my life. Seriously, though .... The other day, Jodi was getting ready for a date and asked which top she should wear ... the black long sleeve sweater, the black button down, or the fun frilly black top. Black is our go-to color. Black is the new black, right?

Anyway ... the point is that we came out of Hancock's with - yes, you guessed it - black and white fabric!!! But, how could we resist??? Just look at the fun reusable bags I made out of it!!!

This is the outside ... fun white swirlies (is that a word?) on a black background. I mean, really ... this fabric was just calling our names from the shelf!! How could we walk out of the store without it??

Here's the inside ... little white dots in stripe formation. Love it. Almost like pinstripes. I love that it's more formal than the whimsical outside. Opposites attract.

Here it is, modeling with some books inside.

I added snaps to the handles so that it will be completely reversible. That way, if Jodi (or her sister in law, who received one as a birthday gift) wants to change it up every now and then, she can do it with ease.

Of course, there still won't be color, but that's ok ... baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I have a niece who loves is INFATUATED with Yo Gabba Gabba. I have no idea why. I have tried - many times - to sit down and watch this show with her, looking for some kind of redeeming qualities in it that would explain why she jumps up and down and squeals with delight at the sight of it, but I can't come up with anything. It's just plain weird. The characters are weird. The songs are weird. The dancing children are weird. And, what does "Yo Gabba Gabba" mean, anyway??? Weird.

But ... I will admit that one of the characters on the show ... Foofa ... is actually kind of cute. She's pink ... with a daisy on her head. Very girly. And Brett likes her. A lot. I was coloring with her the other day, and I made a very rough drawing of Foofa with pink markers on a plain sheet of paper. When I gave it to her, you'd have thought I gave the kid a whole tub of candy or something ... she was so excited and played with it - yes, the paper drawing - for the rest of the time I was there. Amazing.

SO ... I was racking my brain trying to come up with a fun gift for Brett for Christmas, when it dawned on me ... she would love a Foofa doll! They carry them at Target, I hear, but I have yet to see one on the shelves. And, with Christmas around the corner, I decided it was time to break down and MAKE one for her ... yes, I said MAKE one for her. I know I must have had a lapse of judgment when I made that decision, because let me tell you ... it wasn't easy. I had to HAND-DRAW the pattern, and I'm no artist - believe me

Here she is ... I think the final result came out pretty well. I definitely think the body is a little wonky, but Brett is 2 ... she won't care. She'll be happy that she has her very own Foofa, and that's all that matters, right?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Proverbs 31:24

"She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes."

This is a little glimpse at a fun project I've been working on slaving over since I bought my fun 1930's fabrics at Mary Jo's. Please someone stop me the next time I want to spell out long quotes with small appliqued letters!

Even though this has taken a LOT of time and energy to put together, I'm happy with the way it is shaping up! I love the happy colors. I plan to finish it (hopefully soon) and hang it on the wall in my studio for inspiration.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

She's in Business!

My friend Jodi recently had a birthday, and I wanted to make her something that she didn't already have, and that she would get a lot of use out of. Before you start jumping to conclusions ... no, I did NOT make her a coffee cozy. (although, I did make her one last year, since she does enjoy coffee just as much as - if not more than I do). No ... instead, this is the gift I made for her :

Can you guess what it is? I'll give you a hint ... Jodi just started her own private counseling practice (woo hoo!) and has been handing out business cards to let everyone know she's up and running. Well, I thought she would appreciate being stylish while she handed them out.

Have you guessed yet??

It's a business card holder! I saw some metal ones at the store, but didn't like the designs on them, so I went home and designed this simple little pouch that would serve the same purpose! It turned out just the way I had envisioned it, and was SUPER easy to make. If I ever manage to get a business together myself, I will be keeping my business cards in a similar pouch ... except mine will be red, of course.

Here's a close-up.

So, what do you think? Would you use one of these?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vive La Toile!

Well, I finally got around to making something out of the pink toile flannel I picked up a few months ago. A new friend of mine from church just had a baby girl, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make something cute out of it.

Instead of making a quilt, I opted to just take the two layers of fabric and crochet the edges together. It makes for a light-weight comfy blanket, perfect for the not-so-cold winters we have here in the South.

I love how the toile matches the fun tea cup that I bought in a hole-in-the-wall shop the last time I was in Paris. Hopefully little Katherine Grace will love it!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be Stylish While You Save the Planet!

So, I've been trying to be more "green" lately. I mean, it IS the responsible thing to do, and we must take care of this beautiful earth that God has given us. I have to admit that changing things up after this many years of routine has been hard (Yes - Ani - I admit that I still have a long way to go), but I have found that a motivating factor has been making things that are FUN and STYLISH while still being environmentally friendly! Baby steps, people.

My first step was the coaster I made for my desk in place of the 723 cocktail napkins that I would use under my drink every day. Ani told me once that paper napkins are the worst offender when it comes to being wasteful and environmentally unfriendly. I was pretty proud of myself when I made this step.

The next step I took was creating a whole assortment of coffee cozies, which I use faithfully in place of the cardboard sleeves they give you at Starbucks these days. And, you know, with my addiction to Starbucks, I figure I probably save at least 150 sleeves a year (plus the ones that my friends are saving since they received a coffee cozy from me ... like this one and this one). That's got to count for something!

SO ... naturally, when I was looking for another earth-friendly project, I decided to make these super-fun REVERSIBLE grocery bags!!!

I love them. I actually look forward to going to the grocery store just so I can carry one of these bags with me. They are designed just exactly like a regular plastic grocery bag. In fact, I just took an Earthfare bag and cut it apart and used it as a pattern. Easy as pie. AND ... the cashiers at Publix and Walmart don't scowl at me, because my bags fit right into their little plastic bag holder while they are filling them with food ... unlike the normal canvas bags you can buy at tons of stores these days.

The hardest part was figuring out how to make them reversible. In the end, I got to use my little metal snap tool. I had been intimidated by it before, but not anymore ... it's so easy to use! By the way ... I made the switch to organic milk about 6 months ago, and I don't ever want to go back. It's so tasty, and SO MUCH better for you than regular milk!!!

I made two more, too ... one with pink flowers on it and the other with blue paisley (the same as my new purse).

What do you think? Would you use these, or are they too flashy? I was also thinking they'd be fun out of linen.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Gift for Audrey

My boss and his wife are getting ready to have a baby girl ... their first together. She is scheduled to arrive on November 11th, unless the Lord sees fit to bring her into the world earlier. I can't tell you how thrilled I am for them. And, although I would have rejoiced just as much had they found out they were having a boy, I must admit that I am relieved it is a girl instead ... you see, I had secretly been planning their baby gift for a long time and was anxious to make it for them. Now, it's all done except for a couple of finishing touches. But, I couldn't resist sharing.

The color in this picture isn't great (don't you just love using your flash and how it washes out the color??!!??), but the second picture is truer to the real colors. Isn't this doll pattern amazing? It's from Hilary Lang at Wee Wonderfuls. I love it. I have made a few of these as gifts, and I think they are just too dang cute.

I made a matching smocked dress for her also. Well, to be honest, I made the dress and then made the doll to match, but you get the point. I just love the color combo of green and pink ... so very Charleston, which is very appropriate for my boss and his wife. I hope they like it!

Can't wait to meet little Audrey!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm in Heaven

I just received this stack of fantastic vintage embroidery books from my aunt, who is one of the two women who compiled them. Seriously ... she's amazing. She and my mom would sit and talk about sewing and quilting and all sorts of craftiness for hours. She's the kind of person whose sewing studio I would love to peak into ... just think of the fabric stash she must have! I have some of her redwork patterns, but I had no idea she had compiled so many embroidery books! And vintage at that! Amazing.

These books are packed with adorable vintage embroidery patterns. I can't get enough of them. I've been looking through them, drooling, since I got them last week. I don't know if you can see from the picture above ... but those are little mini quilts with embroidered designs. One has all sorts of little girl dresses on it, and another has different styles of hats. So cute. And in all those fun 1930's feedsack colors.

I think I'm going to have to try this pattern on something ... isn't it adorable??? I LOVE the polka dot dress.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A "Sneak Peak"

My friend Ann recently asked me to make a laptop case for her brand-new super-chic espresso colored laptop. Although I had never sewed a laptop case before, she sent me a picture of what she wanted, and it didn't look too incredibly difficult. So, I decided to take on the challenge. I made the pattern up, based loosely on her picture and some dimensions off a laptop case we saw at WalMart. This was, by the way, my first adventure in making something that was padded ... that can get a little bit tricky!

Anyway ... when she chose her fabric, I knew it was going to be a fun project. Pink & brown eiffel tower toile from Michael Miller along with a coordinating polka dot. Ann shares my love for all things french.

Here are a couple of "sneak peak" pictures ...

I made an outer pocket on one side for papers and stuff, and then put a zippered slip pocket in it, so that she can put her power cord in there. It was my first time doing a zippered slip pocket ... it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I can see where it would be a fun addition to the inside of a purse.

I sewed rings on each side, so that she can latch a shoulder strap to it, and I still have to put the short handles on the top of both sides. I'll get better pictures after I put the finishing touches on everything.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My New Purse

So ... I had some leftover fabric from making my super-cute re-useable grocery bags (which I will have to post about later, because I don't have any pictures yet!), and I got the crazy idea to use it to make a fun purse. Not that I don't have a TON of other projects that I need to be working on, or anything! Maybe this was my way of procrastinating taking a little creative breather.

So, I made up this simple pattern for a one-handle "sling" looking bag. I really like it a lot. So much so that I've been wearing it instead of my trusty red purse for the past 2 days. I even changed my outfit both days so it would match. I know ... I'm a freak. It's ok.

Once I got the pattern down, this purse took no time at all to put together. I even put a little magnetic snap at the top to keep it closed. My first one ever. I can't believe I was so afraid of them before! They are SOOO simple to use! I'm thinking that I would like one of these purses in every color!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My New Pencil Case

I finally broke down a little while ago and bought myself a sketch book. Well, it isn't a REAL sketchbook that REAL artists would use ... it's just a journal that I found at Barnes & Noble, but it works just fine for my purposes. I had so many things floating through my head that I want to make, and getting them down on paper is really important to me. It helps me move forward and keeps me from forgetting ideas.

SO ... the first thing I sketched out was, of course, a pencil case for my colored pencils, since I don't like to carry them around in the Crayola box they came in. I wanted it to match my journal, since they would inevitably go hand-in-hand during my sketching sessions. So here is what I came up with :

Don't you just LOVE the owls on the journal cover?? I couldn't resist. They were just too much fun ... the colors are fantastic, and they really reminded me of my mom. She loved owls.

I designed it so that it would stand up on its own (I hate it when zipper pouches fall over when you aren't holding them up!), and so that it would be roomy enough to be able to easily see all the pencils inside of it when I want to reach for a certain color. My first attempt produced a pencil case that was just about as wide as it was long, but I quickly corrected that, and the proportions are much better now. (shows you my lack of pattern drawing experience!)

Here's another shot of it. I'm a little bit addicted to appliqued lettering these days. Not sure what it is, but those cute fabric letters get me every time!

And the best thing about my new pencil case ... it is motivating me to sketch more often! yahoo!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Calvin's Quilt

As promised, here are some pictures of the quilt I just finished for my friend Amy's new baby boy. I made completely out of flannel, since they live in Rhode Island. I figured they could get more use out of a warm blanket than just a thin cotton one that I would typically make for friends who live in the Lowcountry.

One side is patchwork, with just simple straight-line quilting about a quarter of an inch from the seams.

The other side is just simple blue flannel, with Calvin's name appliqued on. I am really big on personalized gifts ... can you tell? Some of my favorite gifts growing up were the ones that had my name on them.

I made a similar blanket for Todd & Lisa's new baby, Matthew, but instead of flannels, I used lightweight cotton. I think this could be a good gift for any new parent!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Sewing Addict's Version of a Hurricane Party

I meant to post this last week, but never got around to it.

And, before I go any further, let me just say that my thoughts and prayers are with all of those people affected by tropical storms & hurricanes this year ... particularly those people in the Houston area (including my grandfather & uncle) who were recently hit by Ike.

Last weekend, we were facing a hit by Tropical Storm Hanna. Even though it wasn't a very strong storm, we still had to be cautious since we're right on the coast. On Friday, it looked like it was turning toward us, so we left work early and headed home. My dad called me to see if I wanted to "ride out the storm" at his house, citing these arguments :

1. Even though his house is significantly closer to the coast and sits directly on a lake, it is still MUCH sturdier and more well-built than my house which sits farther inland.

2. He reminded me that the whole rest of the family would be there ... Suzanne & mama & the kiddos were going over there since Scottie was in Mississippi. And, from experience, it is much more bearable to be with other people at a "hurricane party," if you will, than to be stuck at home by yourself ... probably without electricity.

3. There was room in a neighbor's garage for my car, so that I didn't have to worry about it being hit by falling debris from all the live oak trees around his house.
All of these arguments were great, and very convincing, but the thing that really made the decision was dad's insistence that I bring my sewing machine with me, and his promise to start up the generator if the power went out, so that all the girls could continue to sew during the storm. What more could I ask for?

Of course, in the end, we got a lot of rain and hardly any wind at all. Pretty uneventful hurricane party. But, it was a good time of sewing nonetheless.