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!