Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sewing Expo 2010

Oh, what a Sunday I have had! This morning I headed down to the Puyallup Fairgrounds to attend the last day of Sewing and Stitchery Expo 2010. Now I've returned home with sore feet, a lighter wallet, and a head swimming with ideas and inspiration. Would it really be so wrong for me to fake sick tomorrow so I can stay home and sew?

This is called a Tidy-Tote. In addition to the power of alliteration, it also has the power to sit on the edge of your sewing table, hold your pins and other metal whatnots, and contain your stray threads and garbage. I bought a kit, but they were out of the full starter kits (which had the pattern), so I had to buy the "refill kit." It has everything except the pattern, so I'm in for a fun time trying to figure out how to recreate it based on this blurry photo!

This fabric has become my holy grail. Pacific Fabrics' booth was sold out by the time I got there, so after the expo I went to my local PF, hoping to find a bolt. Sadly, the expo bolt was the Northgate store's bolt. So now I am on a quest to find it. It's from Etsuko Furuya's Echino line, and I will make it mine.

This picture just makes me smile.

Isn't this little turtle the cutest?? It's from a Heather Bailey pattern, and I think I annoyed a Bernina saleslady because I was much more interested in it than in the $4000 machine she was trying to sell me.

Here's my haul from the day. 3 yards of various fabrics, a Tidy-Tote kit, a baby quilt kit (quilting - eek!), a cute vintage-inspired table runner kit, some Venetian buttons from the 1920s (found in the basement of the American Embassy by the very sweet woman who sold them to me!), a pattern for some adorable fruit pincushions, and various sewing tools. Woo! Add to that one gyro, a Nutella crepe, two diet Cokes, and a Fisher Fair scone, and you have a recipe for a VERY happy me!

Friday, February 26, 2010

3 Little Bears

Once upon a time, there were three little bears who lived together in a cozy little cottage in the middle of a lush forest.

Papa Bear was kind and strong, and had once bowled a 280.

Mama Bear was full of energy and ideas, and made delicious risotto.

And Baby Bear looked slightly demented, because the person who created him ran out of stuffing before she could finish.

Also, those creepy green eyes aren't helping matters any.

Anyway, these three little bears are all about 2 days old. I'll post pictures and links for their creation soon.

On another note, guess what's this weekend? Sew Expo!! YAY!! More on that soon...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Springtime Kitchen Towels

I've made no secret of the fact that I am no cook. Thankfully, I lucked into a husband who really loves to experiment in the kitchen, and on top of that he's darn good at it.

To make up for the fact that I can barely boil water, I try to make sure he's always armed with the equipment he needs to get the job done. This includes lots and lots of dishtowels. Any chef will tell you that a cook is only as good as the number of towels he has available, not just for wiping things down but for covering dishes, protecting hands from the heat of the oven, and keeping countertops from scorching under hot pans.

About a month ago, I found these polka-dotted kitchen towels at Macy's:

The problem is, I like a tidy kitchen, and dishtowels laying all over the place does not fit into that vision. We don't have a good towel rack/hook in our very small space, so there's never a neat place to put towels. That leads to a lot of wadded up towels strewn all over the countertops.

But no more! Kleio's Belly to the rescue with her tutorial for hanging dishtowels. I was able to take my three very large (20" x 30") towels and cut them up to make three very functional new springtime towels. These will loop over the bar on my oven and button there securely.

Hooray for no more towel wads!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Old Shirts Made New Again!

On my plane ride down to Oahu, I finished Tori Spelling's autobiography. Yeah, yeah, I know... but if you can't read Tori Spelling's autobiography on an airplane, where can you read it?? Anyway, my poor taste in literature isn't the point. The point is that it turns out I have something in common with Candy Spelling.

You see, apparently when Candy Spelling finds, say, a sweater she really likes, she buys it. Then she buys two more. In every color. I don't go quite that far, but I have been known to pick up double copies of shirts that I really like. Case in point:

I bought the first shirt at the Gap on sale. I loved it, but it started to get worn out.

While shopping one day at Goodwill, I was delighted to find the exact same shirt, for a dollar!! Same size, same color, like new. You know I bought it. Then it also wore out.

Because I loved these shirts so much, I couldn't bring myself to toss them. I figured, "maybe they'll make good sleep shirts." Then I learned to sew.

I used Tea Rose Home's wonderful Ruffle Shirt tutorial to breathe new life into these old faves. Since one shirt only had a little hole on the collar, I used that shirt as the base and cut up the other one to make the ruffles and rosette.

I just love being able to do stuff like this!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Sunshine Garden Bag

Ahhh... it feels good to be back on my sewing machine again. Here in Seattle we are having unusually sunny, warm weather, so I was inspired to make this bag with all of the beautiful bright fabrics I've had stashed away.

I found the tutorial for this shopper on the Moda Bake Shop. You should make one too!

The tutorial calls for 12 layer cake pieces (10-inch squares). Of course, you could go buy a layer cake to use, and then your coordinating would be super simple. I finally got my Spoonflower fat quarters in the mail, so I was dying to try out some of the bright and fun fabrics I picked (so I made my own layer cake). I like the way these six fabrics both clash with and compliment each other. It reminds me of one of those chaotic gardens full of riotous colors that you see in bloom in May.

I simplified the tutorial in several ways. First, I skipped the pockets. I'm envisioning this being either a grocery bag or a carrying-papers-back-and-forth-to-grade bag, so I really didn't need pockets. I also skipped one layer of lining. I'm sure that made my bag more floppy, but my goal was to use up some of my fabric supply, so I didn't want to have to go out and buy more canvas for a flat lining.
I used up the rest of my Goodwill white eyelet cotton for the lining. I think it really adds to the fresh springiness of the bag.

One thing I really liked about this bag was learning to put the grommets in. I got to go down to the parking garage (so that I had a concrete floor) and hammer away to my heart's content. It's always exciting to learn a new technique!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm Here!

So sorry for the lack of posts lately! No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Actually, I dropped off the mainland. I just flew in from Oahu this evening (and boy are my arms tired... heh... little joke there...), so I haven't been sewing, obviously. Although I did keep my eyes peeled for cute fabric.

So here's something fabric-related that I brought back from my trip. Whilst in Hawai'i, I visited the Polynesian Cultural Center. They showcase six island cultures in Polynesia: Hawai'i, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Tonga. In Tonga, they are known for making Tapa cloth, which is really extraordinarily beautiful and labor-intensive.

They start with the inner bark of the hibiscus plant. The women peel it off in strips, like so:
They soak the bark, then pound it like crazy until it's super thin, soft, and way bigger than you would think it could get:
Last, they use plant dyes to create amazing designs on the Tapa cloth:
This whole ceiling is pieced from Tapa cloths:
So there you have it. Far from made with my hands, but a huge inspiration, and a testament to the lengths that we sewing-minded people will go to in order to get our hands on some supercute fabric!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Overnight Bag

Sorry for the lack of posts this weekend, but I spent Saturday and Sunday hunched over my sewing machine working on this little baby. The pattern comes from Melly & Me, and the bag is the Sleepover bag. It's a superduper cute pattern - I love the triangle-folded ends held up with the metal rings. It was also my most ambitious project to date. I worked hard on it, because I was hoping to take it with me to Oahu next week.

I feel really proud of this bag. It was definitely a challenge for my skill level, as it included lots of complicated doo dads like bag feet:

magnetic closures:

and it's fully lined (you can just see a peek here):

Unfortunately, when all was said and done I looked at this bag and realized that it just isn't my style. I was going for a vintage, art-deco kind of feel, but the soft colors combined with the quiltiness of the bag make it feel a little bit like a diaper bag to me.

So this is one item I think I'll pack away for now, where it will await my eventual metamorphosis into a hip, crafty mom.

I haven't quite given up on this pattern, however. I will try another Sleepover bag soon, and here's what I'll do differently this time:
-No more muted colors. I'm thinking of using some of the awesome Kokka prints my Pacific Fabric has, for a slightly more up-to-date feel.
-No silky lining this time. That lining made me want to cry more than once - it is HARD to work with! I think that a bright, cotton-y lining would do very nicely, thank you very much.
-No batting. That may mean I need to use a sturdier fabric on the outside, like canvas, but it will help me avoid the quilted look.
-I'm also not a fan of the rolled handles. I think that flat handles (like on reusable grocery bags) would be great. I'd also like to make them long enough that this could be a shoulder bag.
Hmm... my Spoonflower order should be here soon...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Toy Drop #4

Wednesday afternoon I dropped my swan/goose/whatever stuffie at a park in Issaquah near where I work.

What a gorgeous day it ended up being! It had been drizzling off and on all day, so I was worried about leaving her out in the rain, but I'm reasonably confident she would have been rescued before sunset.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Duck? Duck? Goose?

No, swan! Mine definitely looks less-than-swanlike, due to the crazy colors I picked, but it is supposed to be a swan. I've gotta tell you, this was probably the most challenging stuffie I've made so far - more difficult than even Ellie! First of all, there was a lot of weird, convoluted sewing involved. The body and the neck/head were composed sepearately, then attached with a ladder stitch. I'm not really an expert with the ladder stitch yet, and joining what was essentially two pieces that were perpendicular was tricky, but I think it looks reasonably good. I did tie a bow on there for good measure.

The wings were a big old headache for me, mostly because I couldn't figure out the tutorial directions. I'm sure they would be perfectly clear to someone with more know-how than I have, but I got really lost in all of the directions about crinkling the fabric, and putting the second piece right-side down, etc. If anyone out there could break this down for me, I would so appreciate it!! I ended up just kind of winging it. (rim shot)

I really do love the way my little swgoosuck turned out. I used soft flannel for her body, so she is super cuddly. I'm hoping to drop her tonight for Toy Society!

You can make your own by following the tutorial on small dreamfactory, here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Valentine's Day Stars

Who says that February is too late for snowflakes?? I ordered these wire snowflake frames back around Christmas, but never got around to using them. Last weekend I had fun at the bead shop by my house, picking out pinks, reds, whites, and clears.

I made 6 of these little -stars, we'll call them- then strung them up on some super-thin pink grosgrain ribbon.

...And yes, I did take these pictures in my classroom. During the week I'm never at home when there's any natural light (sad, huh?), so I lugged a few different projects into my classroom for a before-school photo shoot.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Thanks to Wild Olive who provided the tutorial for this adorable groundhog iPhone cover!

Note that the black felt shadow is attached, and part of the cover.

(Btw, it seems that the REAL Punxatawny Phil did not see his shadow today - unlike my little friend here - so we are in for a long winter. Boo.)