Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Handmades and Going Viral

The ice cream truck must have been driving by or something.... in November... twice. 

The week before Thanksgiving I decided the kids needed some new thankful duds. Hendrix got a shirt that was already cut out and waiting in the pile of KCWC leftovers. (You remember, the one where I planned like 18 garments and actually sewed 2.)

It's the Easy Linen Shirt pattern from Sewing For Boys. I liked it because it's a somewhat structured woven shirt, but without the real collar and placket. So it was a really quick sew. I used a gray striped linen from Joann. 

And Elsie got her first ever dress sewn from an Oliver & S pattern. For some reason this was momentous to me. Maybe I've just been waiting so long to make one just for her, since I've made two as shop samples. 

And the pattern did not disappoint. It's the Family Reunion Dress, size 18-24 months, made up in AMH Field Study and Michael Miller's mirror ball dots on the contrast. Both are from Sewn Studio. I just love how sweet this design is, especially on a younger girl. All the pin tucks remind me of vintage children's clothing, and it has the most perfect gathered sleeve. 

As if shimmery fabric and glittery shoes weren't enough, I really went for the holiday glam with these glass buttons. They are a little tarnished because they're from the vintage collection my mom gave me, but they are still very sparkly in person. I love them A LOT on this dress. 

Today I also wanted to show you this absolutely gorgeous pillow I received in the flickr Pillow Talk Swap.  It was made by Jenn and she really got me. I love the soft colors, the gray and yellow together, and the great straight line quilting. She used several of my current favorite fabrics, and the pop of aqua in the binding is perfect. We are loving it in the living room!

One last thing! Have you guys seen these guys around lately? It's kind of crazy to me where my little felt Peanuts ornaments are popping up. After they got pinned by a few of the right people, they were featured on Makezine. Then yesterday they were on Huffpost Home (What?!) and today they are on Buzzfeed.

Is reaching Buzzfeed the standard for going viral? Probably not, but it's fun.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grinch Placemats with Free Pattern

Here it is, my last Christmas project for the Holiday Craft Bash event! I'm so thankful that Meredith invited me to do this with her, because I've made some things I really love, and even better, my kids really love. To be honest, I've always been a bit of a decorating grinch myself. We put up a tree and hang our stockings each year, but that's about it. I always figured I'd make some more nice things for Christmas when we owned our own home and I could spend some time making it just like I wanted it. Some day. 

But my kids don't care about any of that. They really like characters from TV and videos made up in brightly colored felt. No use trying to class it up. And surprisingly, I really REALLY love my new bright and kitschy feeling Christmas. My apartment looks like Santa's workshop this year. I'm gonna go with it. 

So onto our project. These are some pretty fun placemats, but if you don't really fancy your kids sliming them, they are just as cute hanging on the wall.

For each placemat you make, you'll need:

  • A 13" x 18" piece for the top
  • A piece a bit larger than that for the back (fat quarters are great for both.)
  • Scrap of batting or fleece, at least 14"x19"
  • about 65" of binding.
  • The Grinch printable pattern- green, white, red, and yellow felt
  • Cindy Lou Who printable pattern- peach, yellow, pink, white and blue felt. 
  • Spray adhesive
  • Water soluble marking pen
  • Embroidery needle
  • Black perle cotton or floss

Basic steps:
  1. Use the pattern sheet to cut out your felt. I like to trace the shapes on freezer paper for this. 
  2. Use spray adhesive to get all your pieces in place on the top of the placemat, the 13x18 piece. 
  3. Stitch around every felt piece with your machine using a straight stitch. Using all white thread is ok too. 
  4. Use your water soluble tool to add the facial features. Hand embroider in black using a basic backstitch
  5. Baste your backing, batting and top all together using pins or spray and quilt as desired. 
  6. Bind as you would a quilt. 
*Not a quilter? Once you get your top appliquéd and embroidered, just place it right sides together with the back, along with a piece of fleece or sew-in interfacing under the back. Sew around the edges, leave a space open, turn right side out and top stitch the placemats. 

I think my Cindy Lou came out looking suspiciously like someone I know well....

Be sure to check out my other Christmas tutorials in the sidebar, and visit Meredith, Debbie, and Jacey for some more inspiring yuletidiness. 

And if you make any one of our Holiday Craft Bash projects, you still have a couple more weeks to add it to the flickr group. We have a great prize package for the sew-along finale, I'll let you know more soon!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Color Blocked Kid Pants Tutorial

Just bringing home a tutorial I did for KCWC on Elsie Marley this fall. Enjoy!

Hey, I'm Jessica from A Little Gray, and I'm downright chuffed to be kicking off the pre-KCWC festivities. I love this event so much, but in the spring I didn't get to participate because I was competing in Project Run & Play. (Which is going on again right now, by the way. Lots of inspiration there.) But this time around, I am all in!

You should know that I love to sew boy clothes. I have a little girl too, but for some reason the boy sewing comes much more naturally to me. Color blocking has been a great trend for a while now, but it seems like girls have been having all the fun with blocked skirts and dresses. When I saw this new collection from Michael Kors, I knew my 3 year old needed to rock some color blocked pants.

This first pair is inspired directly by those Kors men's pants that are different colors on the front and back. Using Dana's fantastic kid pants pattern, I simply cut the front pattern piece from peacock blue corduroy and cut the back from navy. Not much to explain there, but it's something I never would have thought to do before. 

I also cut them a little skinnier (see below) and added back pockets with contrasting bright blue topstitching. I think back pockets are such a great way to make pants look much more polished and professional. I basically make mine like this tutorial. You can use an existing pair of pants to make a pocket pattern. 

I couldn't stop at just one pair of CB pants, (despite my husband's looks of great concern for my sanity) so I decided to try it with contrasting bottoms this time. They look pretty cool cuffed with some chucks.  The result is just like this pair, but pieced instead of painted. That's what I'm going to show you how to make today.

But first you can very easily make them fit slimmer if you prefer. I did this by marking a line on the bottom of each pattern piece, 1.25" in on the inseam side. Continue to draw the line up so that it's perpendicular to the other straight side of the pants. Then as you get closer to the crotch, ease the line into that curve. Make sure you measure the same amount in on both pieces, and your pants will line up without a hitch.

Now I've cut the new shape out of my pattern and I'm going to figure out where to cut again for color blocking. First, cut a piece of string to the length you want the main fabric of your pants to be before the contrast color starts. I wanted my contrast well below the knee and I cut my string to 11.5". However, my son is tall and I have to add a few inches onto the bottom of this pattern for him. So if your child fits the pattern as is, you might want to take 2-3" off of that length.

Use your string to start at the point of the crotch and measure down the inseam to mark the pattern at the end of the string. Of course, you want to keep it flush against that curve, which I wasn't able to photograph very well.

Use a ruler to draw a line at that mark all the way across the pattern, keeping it perpendicular to both sides. Cut the pattern on that line and repeat the same process with the string on the other piece. It's also helpful to write "front" and "back" on those bottom pieces now so you don't get them confused. 

Now cut all your pieces from the two fabrics, cutting two pieces on the reverse from each like normal. HOWEVER: be sure to add 3/8" for seam allowance to the bottom of the main pieces and top of the contrast pieces. In other words, on the edges where you cut the pattern apart. 

Sew all the contrast pieces onto the bottom of the corresponding main piece, using that consistent 3/8" seam allowance. Finish the seams and topstitch them down on the contrast side with matching thread.

Now you are ready to sew the pants together as usual. But when you sew the inseam, pin very carefully so that the contrast seams match up perfectly. Do the same when you sew the outside seams, hem as usual, and you are done!

If you like this look, you should also check out Blue-Eyed Freckle's tutorial for how to add a contrasting bottom to existing pants.

Thanks so much for having me Meg, I can't wait to see what pops up in the flickr group. Maybe I'll even get to see some color blocked pants? Happy KCWC sewing everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Refashionista Guest Post

Hey! Today I've been computerless all day, but I wanted to pop in to tell you that I have a new tutorial up over at I Am Momma Hear Me Roar for Cheri's ever-popular refashionista series. Time to cut up old sweaters and get your kids all layered up for the cold weather.

Check it out here.

And happy Thanksgiving! I've got some hostess gifts and pilgrim costumes to finish up tonight. Yes, you read that right. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a family Thanksgiving with the tradition of putting the kids in some kind of pageant. I'm pretty excited to see what that actually entails. Hopefully I'll get pictures of that for you, along with the new turkey day duds I made Hendrix and Elsie. Tryptophan out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two Thankful Turkeys, and a Winner

Over the weekend we filled a big box with a bunch of food and a frozen turkey for a food drive that a mega-church near our house is running. It's a huge undertaking where families get a box or two or three and a list of what to fill it with, then come back to the church parking lot the next weekend to drop it off in this elaborate drive thru where you are met with cheering volunteers wearing turkey hats and listening to trendy pop music. They take in hundreds of thousands of pounds of food each year, and haul them away in the tractor trailers that line the parking lot. Impressive operation really.

Before we went shopping Saturday morning, I had the kids make these turkey cards at the last minute to put in our box, and took the opportunity to explain to Hendrix what we were shopping for an why. We talked about it the whole time the kids sat in the shopping cart, filling the box. I felt like we had done a splendid job introducing Hendrix to simple acts of kindness and goodness. Yes, we were awesome parents.

Then as we left the drive thru waving to the crazed church volunteers, Hendrix began to weep. Like not the tantrumy, I'm not getting my way crying, but the I'm so sad in the depths of my little 3 year old brain weeping. He thought we had just given away our own Thanksgiving and he had no idea why.

Welp, guess that didn't sink in as well as I was thinking.

Of course, we were able to calm him down and reassure him that we would have our own very blessed Thanksgiving with our friends in a few short days. And I'm sure he will continue to understand kindness more and more if we keep making sure to show him. But I realized it's actually really good right now that he didn't get it. Of course he would have no concept of money and how some families don't have enough and some families have a whole heaping bunch of it. I kind of don't want him to understand that for a really really long time. I kind of want myself to un-understand that, especially on those days when I'm constantly thinking our family is on the lacking side. It's a ridiculous thought.

So I guess this turned into my Thanksgiving-hey-I'm-thankful kind of post, and I don't even do those kinds of posts.  Whoops :)


Anyway, I guess I should pick a winner for the Modern Designs for Classic Quilts giveaway, huh?

According to, the winner is #7, Allison C who said:

"I haven't tried hexies and log cabins, but it is on the list!"

Congrats Allison, I'll email you!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pillow Talk Process

Today I sent off my pillow cover for the Pillow Talk Swap on Flickr, just in under the deadline. This one was hard to send away. I really love it and hope it's what my partner was looking for. To me it totally feels like something you would find in Anthropologie, which is hopefully a good thing. 


Originally I had a much different design in mind, but then I saw this photo on flickr and was instantly intrigued. I've never seen that kind of design in modern quilting before. I sketched out some ideas and decided to construct mine in long strips rather than blocks like this, so that it could have a scrappier look. 

Pillow talk swap 9- top done.

So each strip is made of five pieces joined together on the bias, and alternating between high and low value. Once all the strips were together, I staggered them by one inch to get the wavy zigzag look and joined them. They finish at 1" for an 18" pillow cover. It's so unlike me to not use any solids at all in a project like this, but I loved playing with the values here. 

Here's a close up of my quilting as I was working on it. The diagonal lines 1/4" apart switch directions a couple times. I love dense quilting on a pillow like this. Crazy cozy. 

On the back I used a bright yellow print from Indi, which looks so fun against the fairly neutral front. I put a zipper in the side seam using the great instructions in the new Modern Designs for Classic Quilts book. (You can still enter my giveaway for the book here!) The Indi collection by Pat Bravo was one thing that my partner said she loved a lot, so I started with a few of those prints and picked the rest from my stash. I'm so glad I got to work with this collection because I don't think it's something I would have bought otherwise, but the colors are so rich and pretty. 

It's on it's way now and I can't wait for it to get to it's new owner! Also can't wait to see what might be on it's way to me. There are always so many super beautiful pillows that come out of this swap, I was a little intimidated to sign up for the first time. But I'm glad I did. It's things like this that push you to do things you wouldn't have thought of otherwise, and just become a better sewist. I love when that happens. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giveaway- My Friends Wrote a Book!

{{giveaway now closed, winner is comment #7, Allison C. Thank you!}}

You guys, I know a couple of quilting rock stars.

Andie and Kelly's brand new book is called Modern Designs for Classic Quilts and it's truly a gorgeous book. Now it is true that they are two lovely and hilarious people that I love to hang out with, but aside from that, if this book was crap I wouldn't be posting about it :)

I've only had this book a very short time and I've already been inspired to make two of the quilts- and pseudo started on them. That cover quilt by Kelly absolutely breathtaking, don't you think? This is the stack I've picked out to make the quilt for someone special who loves these kind of bright and tropical colors. I've still never made an all log-cabin quilt, and as soon as I saw the cover of this book, I knew this was the one I've been waiting for. Just need to pick out my two solids and I'm ready to cut!

One thing I love about the this book is that there is no shortage of photos and diagrams of every single quilt. Plus clear illustrations of each construction step. The 12 large quilt projects cover all the traditional-gone-modern blocks and styles you could want to learn as a quilter- log cabins, dresdens, New York beauty, flying geese, postage stamps, hexies, and even wonky improv. And while the quilt patterns are beautiful and clear to follow, the projects are each presented in a way that make it easy for you to make it your own. Learn the basic block from the book, then make their quilt or make your own riff on it. I love that kind of freedom in a quilting book!

The second project I've already been inspired by is Andie's simple flying geese quilt. This is my month to pick the design for our charity quilt in the Harmony Circle of Do Good Stitches. I loved the idea of geese floating in all that beautiful negative space, so I told the girls in my group to make strips of 12 flying geese in a gray, aqua, navy, and citron yellow color scheme on a white background. I'm so excited to start getting their strips and put this quilt together!

The book is set up to have a smaller project that goes along with the skill learned in each big quilt project- stuff like table runners, pillows, and wall hangings. Projects with smaller time commitments are always great in a craft book. And I LOVE the little notes on each project that give tips starting with "Andie says..." or "Kelly says..." I can tell you that these are written exactly how the girls would talk. They are hilarious and totally make you feel like you are just quilting with some favorite friends.

You know how every quilting book has that part in the beginning that teaches you really basic stuff like rotary cutting and binding? Most of the time, these sections are kind of just a throw away and you can skim past them. But I think this instructional section is one of the most valuable reasons you should own this book. The picture tutorials go way beyond the basics and cover so much skill. They teach you how to do foundation paper piecing, English paper piecing, piecing curves, installing a pillow zipper, making ruffles, appliqués, and all kinds of things. It's so valuable to have all those tutorials in one place on your bookshelf. Sometimes the two of them even share different ways of doing things. (Spoiler alert: Andie presses seams open and Kelly doesn't. Gasp!)

This is just about the cutest picture of Andie and Kelly and it makes me so proud of them! It's very cool that the book is written by just a couple of friends who love to quilt. You can really hear both their voices and styles in the book. In the intro, they share their thoughts about traditional and modern quilting in a way that really sums up beautifully what the two styles mean to each other and what the modern movement is all about. 

So have I gushed enough to sell you on this book yet? The quilts are absolutely beautiful, but even if you aren't one to follow tons of patterns in books, the basic instruction and general inspiration is priceless. I'm super lucky that I get to see all the quilts in person at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting tonight. 

You should go buy it now!

Also be sure to check out these other fantastic stops on the blog tour:

Monday, Nov. 5         (Andie and Kelly, AndieJohnsonSews and Stitchy Quilt Stuff)
Tuesday, Nov. 6       (Lindsay, CraftBuds)
Wed., Nov. 7             (Jill, Darling Jill Quilts)
Thursday, Nov. 8      (Faith, Fresh Lemons)
Friday, Nov. 9            (Tracy, Generation Q)
Saturday, Nov. 10    (Angela, Quilting is my Therapy)
Sunday, Nov. 11       (Shannon, Stitch Craft Create)
Monday, Nov. 12      (Laurie, Scarlet Fig)
Tuesday, Nov. 13     (Lindsay, The Cottage Mama)
Wed., Nov. 14           (Jessica, A Little Gray)
Thursday, Nov. 15   (Mary, The Tulip Patch)
Friday, Nov. 16         (Deborah, Whipstitch)
Saturday, Nov. 17    (Kaysie, KZJo’s Studio)
Sunday, Nov. 18       (Jenny, Sew Kind of Wonderful)
Monday, Nov. 19      (Carla, LollyQuiltz)
Tuesday, Nov. 20     (Thomas, Thomas Knauer Sews)

Wed., Nov. 21           (Brenda, Pink Castle Fabrics)

Thursday, Nov. 22    (Lindsay & Liz Rea, CraftBudsInspire Me Grey)

Friday, Nov. 23            (Sarah, The Last Piece)

Saturday, Nov. 24        (Andie and Kelly, AndieJohnsonSews and Stitchy Quilt Stuff)

Ok, ready for the chance to win your own copy? Just leave me a comment here about which type of quilt block or design you've always wanted to try but haven't gotten around to yet. Make sure to include your email in the comment! (Sorry, U.S. entries only please.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Frosty Advent Calendar Tutorial

Happy Monday! This is the fifth in a series of Christmas tutorials I've been making as part of the Holiday Craft Bash. Meredith, Jacey, Debbie and I are hitting you with a slew of fun Christmas tutorials, and you are making them for the chance at prizes. And for general crafting merriment, of course. 

I picked the theme of classic Christmas movies early on, and in turn I've kind of been tied down to using a lot of felt and embroidery to be able to pull off these beloved characters. Not that I'm complaining about that- I love the felty vintage Christmas look all of these projects have! I definitely remember having lots of felt ornaments and other Christmas decorations growing up. Felt can be your best friend this time of year- just don't cheap out on it! Get the good stuff, it's totally worth it. 

So this week is all about Frosty the Snowman. When I think about it now, this is definitely one of the weirder Christmas specials. I mean, that magician who was always hanging around the children was kind of a creeper right? Even so, my kids will definitely be enjoying some Frosty viewing this year. They went nuts for this advent calendar. 

1/2 yard white felt
1/2 yard background solid. (I used Moda Bella Violet)
1/2 yard backing fabric
3 1/4 yards jumbo ric rac trim
12" ribbon
small pieces of felt in gray, black, red, blue and brown or gold
fusible web
25 2.5" squares of felt in the colors of your choice
black and white embroidery thread or perle cotton
water soluble marking tool

Pattern pages- Download and print Frosty 1 and Frosty2

As usual, I found all of my supplies at Sewn Studio. The best :) 

First cut out all of your smaller felt pieces: the hat, nose, pipe, etc. Trim your white felt down to 18" x 27" and your background fabric to 18" x 35".  Cut the shape of Frosty's head from the top of the felt (one of the shorter ends.) You will have to extend his shoulders out to the sides since the pattern is not quite wide enough.

Lay everything out where it will be and draw on the face with a water soluble marker. I kept his grin slightly crooked like in the picture of Frosty I found, and his eyes large and egg shaped. Hand stitch the mouth and eyes on the white felt before you appliqué anything down. All you need to use is a simple backstitch, and some satin stitching for the eyes. Go here for embroidery help.

Now you are ready to appliqué the felt to the background fabric. I did not use fusible web on the large white piece, just pin it down and straight stitch around all the edges. Then add the smaller pieces and use fusible web for those if you'd like. (If you are seasoned appliqué-ist, pins work fine here too!)

On the hat, first add the main gray piece, then the black band, then the flower and finally the brim.

An advent calendar needs numbers of course, so I also hand stitched those onto each of the 25 2.5" felt squares. It wasn't as bad as you might think, just a couple days of good naps. I just free-handed my numbers on, I like the rustic look of it.

Lay them out on Frosty in 5 rows of 5, centered with about 1.75-2" space on either side.

Pin and machine stitch each one down, going around the right, bottom, and left side. Leave the top open on each pocket. Remove markings. 

Trim your backing fabric to the exact size of the whole front panel. Lay them right sides together. Starting at one bottom corner, put the end of the ric rac in between the layers, hanging a little off the edge. You will be using a 1/2" seam allowance around the edge, so the trick is to pin the ric rac in place so that the center of it is about a 1/2" in, right where you will be sewing. 

Continue pinning around the perimeter with the ric rac in between.

At the top of the panel, add a length of ribbon about 6" folded into a loop. Place the raw edges along with the raw edges of the fabric, and place it in between the ric rac and backing fabric about 2" in from the corner. Pin in place and repeat on the other top corner.

When you get back to the bottom corner you started on, just extend the other end of the ric rac past that corner again and pin everything in place. Sew around the entire thing with a 1/2" seam, but leave about 8" open on one long side for turning.

Before turning, clip the corners really well, including all the bulky ric rac inside. Turn and press well. Press the opening you left under a 1/2" and pin with the ric arc in between the layers. 

Top stitch around the entire thing about 1/8" from the edge. Take your time since there are a lot of layers to sew through. 

Your Frosty advent calendar is now ready for December to arrive! We can't put nails in our walls, so I'm going to buy a couple 3M hooks to hang the loops on. As for the actual advent pockets, I think I'll go the route of writing a simple Christmas activity on a slip of paper for each day. You could also do small treats, or some kind of stick, candy cane, or felt piece that moves from pocket to pocket. 

Looking for other felt movie-inspired holiday projects? 

Please add these or any of the other tutorials you make to the Holiday Craft Bash Flickr group. Check it out, someone (Rachel?) made the Bumble stocking AND added Yukon:



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fall Franken-bag and a Favor.

You just had to click over from your reader because of that fancy alliteration right? Gets 'em every time.

This week I decided to neglect all things more pressing and make myself a new fall bag. The pattern is Anna Maria Horner's Multi-Tasker Tote, which my sweet friend Heidi was kind enough to loan me. She sews like a boss, by the way.

This bag is ginormous. Which is great, because I've been carrying the same ugly boring diaper bag since my 3.5 year old was born. This definitely has enough cargo space to replace it. And the pocket panels on each side are actually divided, so there are four outside pockets for easy access to phones, wallets, behavior bribery, etc. 

This was a great pattern to follow. The construction of the bag is unlike any other I've sewn before, but it really makes a lot of sense. The boxed bottom is nice and sturdy with a double layer of peltex inside. Of course a bag this large requires a lot of fabric- I think it was supposed to be 1 yard for the exterior and 2 yards for the lining, pocket panels, and straps. But I really wanted to use this awesome Melody Miller panel I got down at Whipstitch in June (when I met Melody!) So I used three different fabrics I had on hand for the rest of it- Some AMH panels, some Valori Wells lining, and some Tina Givens straps (I think?). I love using up my stash so much. It almost gives me the same rush I get when I buy new fabric. Almost. So the resulting Franken-bag is a bit crazy, but I'm digging all the fall colors together. And the Melody fabric really makes it seem like 2 different bags with the different colors on each side. 

Here's the very roomy inside. I kinda wish I had added another one of those pockets on the other side big enough for Elsie's diapers. It will still work though. 

Now, if you would do me a kindness? My Japanese + & x quilt made it to the top 5 quilts in the scrap category at the Blogger's Quilt Festival! Go here to vote for me, just scroll down to the last category and you'll find it. I'd love it so much if you did!