I'm super excited to have my newest class over at Creativebug! I teach how to make a simple pillbox hat (no-sew!). You can see a preview by clicking on the photo in the link. I hope you dig it!
I'm super excited to have my newest class over at Creativebug! I teach how to make a simple pillbox hat (no-sew!). You can see a preview by clicking on the photo in the link. I hope you dig it!
Grammie is really back in her groove quilting and taking care of her new puppy. She told me she wanted to make me a quilt using this pattern she was excited about and asked me to pick some fabrics. We decided to use almost all solids from her stash—a sunset-colored range that reminded us of her Mom, my Grandmother Jean, who was a great lover of orange. She was a true modernest. This quilt feels like it was made for her, really, and it turned out stunning. Grammie machine-pieced this zig-zag pattern and machine-quilted it with an organic design which compliments the bold lines of this beautifully. She has been busy machine-quilting for Tille Studio, but was able to sneak this one in between jobs, lucky for me.
The third coat is done. Liddy wanted something comfy and fluffy and she wanted white trim. I used the same pattern for Sadie's coat. This is becoming a favorite pattern. It's McCalls M5743.
This white fluffy trim was sort of crazy and hard to sew with. I think it's minky, or something like it. It sheds and stretches like crazy. To use as a trim, I sewed it into a long tube first, so there were no raw edges to deal with. This made attaching it so much easier, and also a lot thicker, which was fun becasue it makes the coat flare out a bit. The purple is polar fleece, not my favorite material, but she loves it and I couldn't find cotton sweatshirt-weight jersey in a purple.
She likes to come inside and keep it on and nap in it—which I think means it passes the comfy test.
Since finishing Delia's sweater I have not re-found my knitting groove and I miss it.
I'm in between books right now. I finished The Straight Man (good, but I was frustrated with the characters and I found the book more stressful than funny) while we were in Sunriver and The Giver I read over this last weekend. I had never read it before, it came out when I was in college and was not on my radar. It was good although it did have that heavy-handed required school reading vibe to me. I do appreciate the discussion potential and ambiguous ending. I'm trying to figure out when the girls should read it. Early in the summer I read Holly Black's Modern Faeire Tales trilogy (Tithe, Ironside, and Valiant) which were absorbing and fun in that it-sucks-to-be-a-teenager-with-a-lame-mom-and-now-I-realize-I'm-a-pixie-but-I-didn't-know-it kind of way. I was a bit confused at times, but that could have been me needing a nap.
I finished Delia's coat last week. It ended with a bit of swearing, the fabric was hard on my serger and I just felt very done with it before I was actually done. Despite everything the coat turned out really pretty and now the frustrations are a distant memory, party because I am working with some new fussy fabric on Lydia's coat, which is also almost done.
Delia designed this coat—she wanted a tie, and she picked out all the fabric. I didn't have to line this, the backside of this textured light blue fabric is slippery, so there was no need to line it because it already remedies any sleeve drag, which all kids seems to loathe. All the buttons for all the girls coast this year have come from their Great-Great-Grandmoher Birchie's button tin. I used Simplicity 2534, again (I think this might be the 5th coat I have made from this pattern) and once again, I just love this pattern to bits.
After Lydia's coat I'm on to Halloween costumes and am also going to try and finish this vest I started knitting last spring.
We just got back from a short trip to Hood River and picked apples and ran around outside. The weather was on our side, which was lucky. Tonight there will be apple crisp, a fire, and hot cocoa to celebrate the Autumnal Equinox. And possibly a game of Kingdom Builder, which Pete and I like more than the girls, but we still try to get them to play.
And unrelated, I was asking about buying owl pellets for the girls to dissect when we were at the nature center in Sunriver, and they told me about Acorn Naturalists, which is a big big website with all kinds of wonderful supplies, books and resources. Time suck alert! It's pretty wonderful.
I sewed this coat for Sadie from McCalls M5743. She had more design input for this one than the one I made her two years ago. I made that one big so she wore it two seasons. This one is made with sweatshirt jersey, mostly cotton, and it's unlined except for the hood. It has a formal look, but is super cozy, which was requested. The cuffs and hood lining are printed polar fleece, so there is no itch. It's been so warm here that she hasn't been able to wear it yet. She's modeling this in 80 degree weather because she is a trooper.
This sewed up really fast and was very fun to make. Delia's is almost done and it's completely different. There is some real texture going on with that one. And fake fur. It should be an interesting challenge. Lydia has been unclear about a new coat, she might want Delia's old one. It's hard to pin her down, that 6-year old, she has been obsessed with her new jean jacket lately, so that might be all she wears for a bit.
I know I have written this before, but I love, love, love sewing my girls' coats and nightgowns/robes/pjs. Because they wear a coat and pjs everyday, I get to see those so much more than other types of clothes I sew for them and it's so satisfying.
I finished this sweater for Delia that I had started in April. I put my Cypress on hold because I wanted to knit something colourful and stripy so I switched to this project using a fabulous yarn Delia selected that is self-striping. All the info is on my ravelry page.
The pattern was generated from a phone app, Raglanify, which is pretty great to use. I really like choosing my yarn first and then using a pattern that is customized to my gauge. This my second sweater, I was all accessories and small project before now.
Fall is coming. It rained the last two mornings. There is a hustle in the air with all the back-to-school energy in the world that we watch but doesn't affect us, being homeschoolers. We still do the exciting stuff—the girls buy school supplies because that is just so much fun and the prices are so good. I also have finished Sadie's fall coat (I will show this soon) and am about to start Delia's. I love sewing their coats so much. This year they have had a lot more interest in the design, so animal prints and faux-fur are making an appearance.
I just finished an Ann Tyler book, Searching for Caleb I always like her work. It's poignant, quirky, and relatable.
We just saw the newest Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine. It was good, but it was heavy. Not really date-night material. We saw it at Cinetopia, (groupon deal) and watched it while eating food. You can order from a menu from your lounge chair, with your feet up on an ottoman. We ending up sharing the Nacho Supreme and a brownie. There was an opening musical act, a guy who was really good. He was playing accordion and singing. The last song seemed pretty personal and I wondered how many people were listening to the lyrics.
Sadie, Lydia, and I had so much fun shooting this class for creativebug on paper mâché magic wands. You can see a little video preview here, just click on the photo. It was an action packed messy production, I was sweating in that wool cardi, I tell you. But it came together really well. The technique I teach for the basic paper mâché wand form, glueing, and finishing can be used for any shape you can think up, all with newspaper and tape and stuff you have in your recycle bin. Sadie is 10 and Lydia is 6— it was fun to see how they did this project differently. It's great for all ages. Now I want to make some paper mâché black cats, ghosts and pumpkins for Halloween and then a turkey and some Christmas decorations, too.
Susan Beal and her daughter Pearl made some clothespin dolls from a creativebug class I shot with Delia and she is giving a little doll kit away to make your own dolls! Head on over there and leave a comment to win it—and she has a code for you all too, that is good all summer on a discount for creativebug classes. Thanks Susan!
We have a lot of handmade dolls and stuffed animals in the house, some of them made by the girls, some made by me, many made by friends, and they often need extra love and a little bit of repairing. A pile was developing with long descriptions about what needed to be repaired and I suggested making an Intake Form for the hospital, which is on top of my ironing board in the sewing room. All the patients are lined up under a "heat lamp" waiting for triage, an exam, and treatment.
I created these forms for the girls to fill out and leave with each patient. It's been a huge hit with all ages in the house (6-10). Using the templates in pages (I think microsoft word has them too) is a great love of mine. We make brochures, business cards, signs, and all kind of things with very little effort and the girls like them because they look so official. I love them because I can customize them instantly.
There's a spot to draw since writing can be hard for younger folks. Anyone can be the doctor or can help with the intake paperwork and process. Often an extra (unplugged) phone is involved. How great is having an extra real phone, not a cell phone? They love playing with it. These forms were used for both real injuries (stitches that need to be re-sewn) and made up ones. Sadie just filled out one for her dog's anxiety issues. I'm prescribing tea, meditation, and long walks as a treatment.
Here's the form to play with and customize.
I saved it as a word file (not a PDF) so hopefully you can open it and customize it for your own needs. It's written in a serious/funny way, which is our sense of humor. I printed 5 and then had to print 10 more. They are kind of heartbreaking after they are all filled out. As the doctor, I date stamp them and fill out the rest of the form and when I finish I fold it up small and tape it to the patient. I also try to add a little something, a cape, new collar, or a ribbon to spruce them up—I think a photo attached would be great, too, if they are so inclined. These forms are keepers for sure.
Creativebug is offering a great sale on all their a la carte classes. You can buy a single class, and have access to it forever, for only $9.99! This offer is good on all the a la cart classes, and mine are in there, too.
This sale ends on June 22nd and is a perfect way to see the quality of classes they produce if you don't want to jump into the subscription plan.
I made some leather and jute bracelets with Delia a few weeks back. I used this fine tutorial right here. They were so easy to make and quite addictive. I wouldn't use jute again. It's pretty, but itchy. I think this is now being used as a key fob, or it's tied to a dance bag or something. I want to make more.
related to making stuff:The whole family has been taken over by DIY Skills. It's a site for kids to tackle challenges and to master skills. Think baking, animating, camping, hacking, film making, sewing, chemistry, computer programing, you name it. Insanely fun and motivating.There is too much awesomeness to write about here—it's pretty involved. But you can get a sense of it all if you watch the video, and look around at all the projects kids have done and read the FAQ. The real embroidered patches are supposed to be available for sale next month. I asked and they answered.
Last month the excellent people from creativebug were here at the house (while they were in Portland for Quilt Market) and we shot a couple classes.
The first one is available now! It's right here!
Delia is teaching this one with me and she did a great job. It was pretty fun to do a workshop with my 8-year old daughter. The other two girls appear in the next class, which was a hoot to make, for sure. Right now this class is part of the subscription package, which is a great deal—unlimited classes for a monthly fee.
And, they have a cool promo right now where you can watch a class for free.
They also have a Father's Day free printable card on their blog. The blog is really wonderful, so much good stuff in there.
Ann and Kay over at Mason Dixon Knitting have come up with a great way to celebrate Kathreen's life this long weekend by suggesting we spend time looking at whip up, link to a favorite whip up post, and encourage anyone who wishes to do the same and spread the word and contribute to funds for the surviving children of Rob and Kathreen.
Now, paypal can make this even easier.
To contribute to Otilija and Orlando's education fund, please head over to Paypal and use the email address set up by Kathreen's brother Jonathan Ricketson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week we made some photo blocks. We glued the photos to wood scrap and/or toy wooden blocks with YES paste and then covered them with 3 coats of gloss Mod Podge. Then the sides were painted.
We got this idea from my mom, who made a bunch of lovely photo blocks with family photos and beeswax using Courtney's video. Ours were done spontaneously, we didn't even take the time to melt beezwax, we just used what was in the craft cupboard. The girls used photos from the instaprints we just got. I am so happy I got these, they have already been mailed, altered, and traded, so I probably will not order them as magnets just so they are more versatile. For this last block, I used Maui photos printed from my printer and gave it to Grammie on mother's day.
I found this amazing yarn that I am getting all crazy about at Michaels. It was on sale, I think it was $1.99 or something insane like that and I just can't stop tying it on stuff. I don't really troll the yarn there, but my middle child needed some neon orange yarn (does this exist? we couldn't find any) and I found this in the hunt. It's called "flaunt" by Loops & Threads.
Unrelated, I finished The Snow Child and liked it so much. It was odd reading it on Maui because it takes place in Alaska. I also did that thing where I read a bit too much about the author right after I finished it. Like seconds after I finished it, dang internet, and so I wasn't able to just sit with the story for a while, which I should have done. It's a quiet and still story and tearing the curtain back to learn all about the author ripped me out of it all too abruptly.
I'm now reading The Great Gatsby, because—well, you know why. I want to at least have a recent framework for when I see the film. I haven't read it since highschool. I remember the story, but not the writing. This was also true for me reading Lolita again a few years ago for a bookgroup. I remember reading it in highschool (not for a class, of course, but on my own) but it may as well been a different book. It makes me want to reread so much.
Happy Mother's Day! I'm having strawberry shortcake right now.
This is another t-shirt I had made for Pete. This one was for his birthday. Like the one I made before, I used CustomInk and was so happy with how it turned out and how fast it shipped. I did feel a little guilty, like before, that I didn't get all DIY on this and burn my own screen, but when I only want one shirt, it's such an easy way to go. I'm sure there are lots of companies that do this, feel free to suggest some others, this is the only one I've used so far. I think there's a local option, but I haven't checked them out yet.
I had the girls each draw something they know Pete likes, so Liddy drew a rocketship, Sadie a guitar, and Delia drew a robot. I scanned them and made them the same size and then uploaded the art to their site. I did convert it to line art first (in Illustrator) so I could change the ink color to white. I wonder it they could do this for you if you don't have a program that does it? I'm not sure.
Then a few clicks and and a few days later it was here and he loves it so much. We spend way too much time thinking about making t-shirts around here, mostly with sentences that are probably only funny to us. I'm sure we will make another for father's day.
My newest video workshop is almost here over at Creativebug! It will be up Thursday, April 25th. I'm so excited to have this one out there. I'm showing how to make a camisole and undies from an old t-shirt. I did a similar project years ago for BUST magazine and am thrilled to offer this much more detailed how-to. The cool thing is you make the pattern yourself from your own favorite undies and cami—so no worries about trying to guess your size or anything. I hope you all start digging through your old shirts. The larger the t-shirt the better, FYI. When the class is available it will be right here on my instructor page.
They really deserve to win. You can vote right here. Please vote! Voting closes the end of the day this Thursday, April 25th. I know I say this every time I mention their name, but I just can't tell you how wonderful it is working with these people and how continually impressed I am with the quality of workshops they offer.
I have been standing a lot the last month, only sitting while I drive. For real. I know of evey place in town where I can eat standing up and not get weird looks or nice people asking me if I need a chair. The food carts are always good. And any bakery. My back is getting better, physical therapy has been really helpful, but sitting is sill hard and off limits, which is depressing, to be honest. It's hard to get cozy while standing.
As with any health issue (or like having a small baby) the change in what I can and can't do makes my life different in ways I wouldn't have imagined. So it's pretty cool. (Sort of. See the attempt at a positive spin?) For instance, I have learned to knit easily while standing. The last sweater and this vest (which is half done) were knit standing AND because I need to get up in the night (again, like with babies) to get my bulging disk back in place before I can sleep again (ick) I have been watching weird shows on the computer. All by myself. With no thought or pressure behind the choices. It's great. Before the back thing I never would let myself do that, I always feel guilty not doing something else (but I am still knitting mind you). It's fun and frivolous, even if I am cold, grumpy, and up at 4am in the morning in pain.
I was watching Kingdom, a great tip from my Steven Fry loving Grammie, and then season 2 of Portlandia (Netflix instant is my friend) and then over the weekend I freaked out watching 4 episodes of a show called Tabletop (not on Netflix, but free) where you watch people play board games. Wow, really? It sounds boring and geeky as all get out, and like maybe something you would only watch at 4am when you are in back pain, but I can't tell you how funny and how rad it is. This one is my favorite right now. Warning, there's swearing and bleeping and off-color humor, which makes it entertaining, but not for kids.
We play table top games in this house and while we are still newbies, the girls are getting more into them and Pete and I are too. The trick is to find good ones we can teach them without taking an hour (or more) to learn them ourselves. The beauty of this show is that it also teaches you how to play these games, which is so helpful. I can instantly get a sense if a game will be good for all of us in terms of complexity. I know I could go to a gaming night to learn at a local game shop, but I'd have to stand (weird) and also leave the house, which can be hard sometimes, except for when it's not, but I never know when that will be.
Thank you for all your support this week. We've been feeling a huge internet hug and it's wonderful.
I finished the Toulouse Sweater (here's my project link) a few days ago and I can't tell you how big of a deal this is. It's my first ever knitted sweater. My 3rd attempt. My first sweater attempt was about 13 years ago, when we lived in Seattle and I was super new at knitting (I'm still new) but new enough to not realize how silly it was for me to try a sweater with tiny needles and no real experience. I still have that yarn. Then, about 4 years ago there was another sweater attempt, and it was very sad because I really thought I could do it, I had quite a few knitted projects completed so was full of hope, but after many twisted stitches and needles that were too long and me not knowing what I was doing, it got frogged and that yarn has made all kinds of accessories and I still have some left.
But, then I tried agan. I started this right before we found out about Grammie's cancer and later I felt guilty I wasn't knitting her hats, but at that time we were told she wouldn't need chemo, so off I went, knitting away. The long tie part took forever. Through the holidays and all the issues with Grammie I kept knitting, and it was so therapeutic. Especially because there wasn't a whole lot of thinking involved, just knitting. It was really great, mostly because it was taking so long. It was so nice working with my hands, knowing I wouldn't have to think of another project any time soon. I sewed 3 costumes, a dress for myself, and 2 skirts, and 3 robes with matching eye masks for the girls during this time too but sewing goes so fast, and I needed to come back to the same project over and over again, and this was it.
We are seeing the same people at the chemo center every 2 weeks and they have seen me knitting this, so I'm going to wear it next week. I was getting some grief over the huge armpit holes a guy pointed out to me when we were talking. He was concerned about that, I reassured him I could stitch them up and you wouldn't be able to tell. I plan to show him my armpit next week.
With sewing, I can pretty much visualize exactly what the finished piece will look like and hang like when I see the fabric, but with knitting, the string, or the yarn, is so different than the fabric I make with it—it's really thrilling. I thought I would get sick of the color of yarn, but I didn't at all. I have already cast on for this pattern, which is an entirely different look, hobbit cute, which I'm excited about.
I want to give a big plug for Lisa and Katrina's new online workshops they are teaching. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to Lisa's wonderful book, Knot, Thread, Stitch and she and I go way back in blog years. She was one of the first blog friends I ever made and is one of my favorite artists out there.
Please go to their site for even more info and read about all the perks you get for siging up—it's pretty amazing sounding.
I'm so excited for them. Lisa is providing a discount promo code in this post here on her blog.
Here's a description directly from the site— they describe it much better than I could do. (And all these photos are from interwoven also.)
“INTERWOVEN :: make : thread : craft : art” is a
textile-based online course that will guide students in four techniques
over four weeks :: February 4-March 1, 2013
Each week will focus on a different textile project:
week 1 :: crochet
week 2 :: soft sculpture
week 3 :: embroidery
week 4 :: mini quilt
Each week will have daily posts:
day 1 :: complete step-by-step tutorial to learn the technique
day 2 :: an inspirational post offering other artists/crafters using this technique in exciting ways
day 3 :: descriptions/photos of possibilities for altering this technique for future use
day 4 :: an exclusive interview with a professional artist using this technique in their work.
day 5 :: suggestions for further exploration including links to materials, tools, resources, and other studio tips.
The private website will be available all day, every day, from the first day of class on February 4 through April 30—this way you can enjoy the information at your own speed after the course has finished on March 1.
In addition to the private online course, participants will also have access to an INTEWOVEN Facebook page and a private Flickr group where they can post their own projects and receive weekly feedback from the instructors. [Everyone who posts will receive feedback from one of the instructors on at least one image that they present.]
The course is designed with the beginner crafter and the experienced artist in mind. It aims to offer everyone a supportive creative community, daily inspired prompts, thorough tutorials, personal feedback, insider tips for tools & resources, and inspiration to nail the basics AND take these projects to the next level.
Delia got the newest American Girl, Caroline for her birthday a bit back, and that prompted us to learn about the war of 1812, which I don't think I ever learned about in school. We may have, but The Oregon Trail is what loomed very large in my schooling memory, especially before high school.
A Caroline-style dress was requested and made, right after the holidays and before the barfing virus took hold of our family. I finished stitching on the trim last weekend. I used a lovely rayon/cotton light lavender fabric I found at Mill Ends. Delia requested puffy long sleeves, like a dress shown on one of the books, but was flexible with the color, which was great.
I used McCalls M6141, the same pattern I used for Sadie's Dress when she was 8, which is medieval, but the lines were right and allowed me to sew the whole project without leaving the house, except for the trim selection, which warranted a special trip the the The Button Emporium and Ribbonery. Delia spotted the perfect embroidered ribbon for the bodice.
Caroline does some clever stitching in the first book, marking on a needlework map where enemies are and showing it to her Dad, who is a prisoner planning to escape. Needlework and intrigue has been coming up for us lately, there was needlework Morse code on a crinoline in a book we read when we were studying Florence Nightengale, The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, which is a great series whose main character is a brilliant runaway, inconitgio, and is the younger sister of Shelock Holmes. (We really like this series, but have had to skim ahead and/or be quick to edit out some more intense topics that come up in these books when reading aloud to all 3 girls.)
This is Delia's cross-stitch she has been working on for about 9 months, off and on. It's her initials, which we will frame when she finishes her "M". The girls' work in cross-stitch runs hot and cold, almost identical to my cross-stitch work. When I pick mine up, they want to work on theirs, and then need help, which means that I can't really work on mine. Now I expect this, so it makes me much more patient. I know now I just need to try and work mine about double the amount, realizing I will only get about half done as I think. Or, I need to work on mine when I actually don't want to really work on it. A double fake-out.
I can show some gifts that were a secret until now—
This t-shirt was custom-made and given to my husband for the holidays. I was so happy with how it turned out and even happier with how easy it was to make over at CustomInk. I was feeling kind of frantic because I had planned this shirt for him but lost track of time. I had a blank shirt all ready to go and was going to burn a screen and then couldn't find my screens, and then was going to order more but realized I could only get a 3-pack and didn't want to spend that much and was feeling guilty getting this made professionally because I um, you know, wrote a book on how to do this kind of thing DIY-style, but then got over it and a few clicks and 3 days later got the finished shirt.
This shirt design came about after taking this funny/ridiculous quiz, which was awesome because Pete has got to be the most mellow guy I know and the description of the wolverine spirit animal is so much not like him. (Or is it?) I was a wolf. We were taking this quiz with a friend and immediately went to the "which character are you in Star Wars" quiz. She didn't know enough about Star Wars to understand exactly why being Queen Amidala was such a big deal. I tried to explain. As for the remaining two of us—one was Obi Wan and the other was R2-D2.
The super awesome folks at creativebug are showing 5 video workshops for free! All of them are perfect for holiday gift making and wrapping, like this holiday Burlap Bunting Project. I can't stop watching these videos. I loved working with them on my workshops and as people, they just rock, I tell you. I think their production quality is the best out there —I'm so happy they are doing this so you all can see how cool these workshops are to watch. Here are the other free ones:
This was finished last week. It was made up in a yarn she had knitted a few projects with and it was so soft and nice (I lost the info card) that I asked if she wanted a hat, too. It's the same pattern I used for Pete's hat last year, but I made it smaller and added the pom-pom, at her request. Afterwards, I wanted to make many many more pom-poms. I might have to. Perfect for leftover yarn. I have a few of the clover pom-pom maker-thingys—which didn't help me at all until I watched a you-tube video on how to use them because I got them years ago and the directions were long gone. I plan to start the sweater project soon.
I'm brain storming what gift to make this year for friends and family that's a consumable type of thing which will also fit into the extra smallish jars I have from making all my salves. I also am finishing up an advent calender (more complicated than last year's) and it's been fun and good for me to work on. I have officially used a lot of glitter.
This is the Berry Long Cake with Ginger Crumb, from the Vintage Cakes book. (The recipe is here, scroll down) I have a backlog of desserts I have made from this book to show. This is that wonderful combination of not-too-sweet-berry-good-for-breakfast-type of dessert I love. My changes— I added less berries, because mine were frozen and I didn't want them to make the whole cake too wet, and added about 10 minutes to the cooking time. Delicious.
We have a child in the house turning 8 today. Big stuff! Her Dad took her ice skating, which is awesome. I take them roller skating, and he does the ice skating, so it works out. I love the idea of ice skating, but feel like my shins are going to explode when I actually do it.
I have been sewing a lot, but weird/funny things like 8 pairs of stretch pants in jewel tones for a dance recital. I did sew a skirt for myself inspired my this beauty at Boden and am knitting hat #2 of the season. And I bought yarn for the sweater—I am that much closer to starting it. But then I went to the needlework shop today and decided to start some cross-stitch ornaments (in my mind) and so now that the 8 pairs of jazz pants are done, I got busier (in my mind). And there's our first b-day slumber party part coming up this weekend, and also I got called for jury duty next week, which is a special challenge as a homeschooler (that excuse was denied, I'm tempted to take them with me) so there you go.
I think I might try to knit a sweater this winter. I am knitting yet another hat and after knitting quite a few accsssories last fall/winter, I think I am ready to try a longer project. We shall see. I spied this pattern, The Touluse Pullover, in the newest Knitscene (winter 2012) and I sure like the way it looks.
I'm not sure how I found it, but so happy I did—Classics For Kids features various classic composers and their music. This week's program is Halloween-y (Greig!) we have already listened to it 3 times. There's some nice additional info on this site, too. That's an understatement. There a lot of clicking and listening— here. Very very cool.
I now have video workshops over on creativebug!
It's been so great working with them. They came up here to Portland at the end of the summer to shoot one of my classes along with my instructor trailer—which is about 2 minutes long and made Grammie tear up—you can see it here, click on the banner.
I went down to SF in September to shoot more workshops in their studio. The whole crew was great to work with. I can't say enough good things about them. All their workshops are so professional, I was blown away when I first saw them. And the instructors! It's an all-star group of teachers over there—I am so flattered to be in their company.
You can see little teasers of these classes in the links. In the full length workshops, I don't swear and I talk about how much I stink.
Creativebug works as a subscription—you get access to ALL the classes to watch unlimited times, for a monthly fee. This subscription model is ideal for trying new crafts because you already have access to all the workshops. You think you are just a sewer? Try some jewelry making! Grammie immediately started creating gorgeous mixed media art with vintage family photos and beeswax after watching Courtney's wonderful workshop.
Added awesome bonus—they gave me a special promo code, "PUMPKIN", that I can give to you. It will deduct $10 off any subscription package you buy!
That's what I'm talking about! Holiday gifts galore. And for your fellow crafters— a gift subscription would be a swell idea, too. Or a subscription for a school/club auction?
I have more workshops coming, I will let you know when they are available. I am super proud of these, I hope you all dig them.
Here's a shout out to Gretchen and her new book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture-Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques. I am so in love with this skirt right now!
I received this book from her publisher late in the summer and was so impressed with the detailed taloring directions, the absoultely fantastic illustrations, and the depth of information about sewing vintage style clothes.
I haven't made anything from the book yet, but have read the whole thing. Gretchen's writing voice is so great—funny, down-to-earth and silly, it's a pleasure to read. I'd recommend this book to any fashion sewer who is a bit more advanced, has a serious interest in vintage sewing techniques, and some time on her hands. This is not down-and-dirty sewing, but studied and time consuming. Which is awesome.
Over on her always entertaining blog, she is hosting a sew-a-long, along with her normal sewing-radness topics.
We had fun making some new Halloween crafts/decorations last week. The hat and coffins came as unfinished brown chipboard. I got the coffins at Collage in Portland and the witch hat at The Peddler's Pack in Beaverton. Both shops have ridiculously nice people working there and wonderful inventory.
The hat was my project. I painted it black and added some metal and paper embellishments, black tulle and ribbon. The coffins the girls painted, decorated, (I was very surprised at their restraint) and then we thought it would be cool to make cute ghosts to live inside. The ghosts are made out of tube socks, which I trimmed and re-sewed. Then they stuffed them and we used beads for the eyes and paint for the mouth. Super fun and cute! It took a few days, which was nice, so they didn't tear through the project like crazies. The bones from two years ago are still holding up well—I think that might be one of my favorite Halloween crafts we have ever done.
Big news—I'm super excited to be working with Creativebug! The first of several classes we shot over the last 2 months are coming very soon. I'm in some pretty amazing company. The first class will be available next week, I will keep you posted.
This is the Halloween costume for the middle child. She saw a costume very similar in a catalog and wanted it. I used McCalls 5499, which has quite different lines, but I love this pattern and had enough yardage.
I'm not sure why I already had this crushed stretch velvet, but I did. In three colors, no less. The stretchiness makes it very forgiving. The real fun for me was the head piece. I found super big cotton cording and covered it with fabric and wrapped it with trim. It was like working with huge noodles. Or intestines. In an art installation kind of way.
It's sort of a weird feeling copying janky costumes from catalogs to make for them. These catalogs are not my favorite source material and it's unlikely if it's less expensive to sew them. But because I already had the fabric, it feels like it's free. Especially since I can't remember buying it. This one turned out really pretty and it doesn't itch at all, unlike the catalog ones. The next one I am finishing is a Movie Star costume, also copied from a costume catalog, which is highly questionable and definitely tacky. But whatever. It's been fun to make, too. I need to finish the fur stole, which again, is probably cheaper to buy. We did purchase one costume this year, for the 5 year old— cheerleader outfit. It has sequins, so, you know, it's an extra fancy cheerleader outfit. I got blank stares when I asked "who wants to be a maid?!"
Unrelated, (but in a way related to everything) I just read this quote from a book I am loving.
". . . once you begin to respect what you do —not in an egocentric way, but with appreciation and self-worth—then any activity becomes meaningful. Life is to be respected, appreciated, and lived full—instead of chastised or rushed through.
—Running with the Mind of Meditation, Lesson for Training The Body and Mind, by Sakyong Mipham
I finished the maid costume a bit ago. Sadie loves it. I don't think I will have to sew 2 more, the other girls are on to halloween requests, which are changing daily and seem to never invlove costumes we already have. They have asked Pete to dress-up as "guitar-playing Abraham Lincoln" which should be interesting.
For this costume, I had a blast with my Downton Abbey research and used Simplicity 2843 for the dress, the apron pattern I designed. The dress is black cotton with a zip in the back and the apron is white muslin. It was easy to sew and I spent way too long fussing with the lace placement on the apron. I was definitely in my happy place working on this project.
I didn't realize until after I was done how useful this dress is for all kinds of costumes. All black with a bit of lace lends itself to so much—a mourning outfit, Victorian dress-up, an old-fashioned witch. It's such a great basic piece.
Once again, sewing with all black sure makes me realize I need to get some better lighting in my space.
I was at the fabric store last week (Mill Ends) looking for rayons for a dress and millinery supplies and found this sweater knit that I had to buy —which was not on my list and is seasonaly innappropriate. I bought a 1/2 yard of each color, sewed it up making a tube, and sewed it into a big circle. Instant long cowl.
These are for the two older girls. They started wearing my cowls instead of their scarfs last winter because they found it easier to play and not have an unraveling scarf to contend with. Also, they wore mine because they were mine. They look adorable in them.
These ended up costing under $5 each and took about 5 minutes to sew. After typing this, I wonder, what does that mean? I never think that when I knit. I never think, oh I can make this fast and for not much money. Sewing is funny that way. Well, certain kinds of sewing is that way. Anyhoo-
To make them, I serged the loop together, but a regular stitch would work fine. I sure wish I had found some natural fiber knits, these are not (acrylic) but they are soft, hardy, and now it won't be a tragic thing if they get lost. The funny thing is the one I wore the most last winter (even with all the ones I knit) is also acrylic. It was purchased super cheap at one of those stores. Go figure. It's really long, longer than I would ever want to knit, so maybe that's why I bought it. Now back to summer sewing. I have made a dress and 2 skirts I have yet to photograph.
I was looking for some millinery information and magically found the The Human Ecology Collection. They have digitized and made available vintage titles all about sewing, costuming, and millinery. Now I am excited, tired, and a little overwhelmed.
The Rhinestone Gallery is up over at Tie One On and really worth checking out. Pretty amazing.
I heard this interview on Q with Frank Partnoy about procrastination and why in many cases it can be a good thing. It's a theme that keeps coming up in my life. I always have been a pretty quick desicion maker and very quick to form an opinion—in the last few years this has really slowed down.
Some formal maid costumes have been requested for some time now. I have started one and am facing the reality that I will have to make three. These images I printed from Downton Abbey have me a bit nutty, they are so lovely. This head piece is killing me. I am using Simplicity 2843 for the black maid dress. It's a simplified version of view B.
I love doing this so much. Well, I love swing the first one, but the second and third versions get a bit tedious, especially when they are so similar. I will have to mix it up a bit. As much as maid costumes can vary, anyway. I try to get thrills where I can.
They want the 5-year old to be "tweenie" and I was laughing that they even knew what that was, but they do, from a book about Victorian servants I got them a bit back. I had to look it up. They love every book in this series.The illustration style is not what they usually are into, but there is something about these books that they can't get enough of. Maybe because they are filled with very interesting and gruesome facts.
I finished up this cross stitch after taking a 4-year break from it. It was the perfect project to finish at the beach. I used dark teal floss on a light brown linen. The pattern is by Mary Riggs inspiried from Quaker samplers. I can't find the pattern online, but it's from her Sampler Ornaments 8, if you want to ask your local needlework shop about it.
There are a few mistakes and some lazy thread floats on the back, which you can see through the linen, but I still love how it turned out. I have already started a similar pattern with red thread which I have messed up in a bout of over-excited stitching and am now taking out. Or plan to take out, but haven't yet. I really have mellowed with my cross stitch angst. I usually don't do well with projects sitting for any length of time. I need to get them done. With this new one, I know I may not finish for 4 more years and that feels just fine. If I only work on my stitching at the beach or on vacation, so be it. It might not fit into everyday life right now. That makes it even more special in my mind.
Like with knitting, the wanted to do this after watching me. And, similar to knitting, they had tried cross stitch when they were younger, and it was too hard. Now seem to really enjoy it. I made sure to pack a little project for the older girls to take to the beach just in case they wanted to try. The 5 year old uses sewing cards, the hard cardboard kind you sew with shoelaces, which she loves.
My knitting has cooled a bit. The sock class I took in April, while so interesting, kind of burnt me out. I just don't do well with knitting homework, especially on size 0 needles. But I have some projects in my brain. And I certainly have a lot of yarn.
We saw Brave and liked it a whole lot and Pete and I saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which had some beautiful imagery—but overall I was disappointed. I think I read too many "this is the most amazing film ever" type reviews.
cross-stitched buttons by Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery
a project by Kate Bingaman Burt
A portrait by Delia Matern of her Dad (machine-stitched by me)
I am really proud to be included in this wonderful new book by my friend, Lisa Solomon, Knot Thread Stitch: Exploring Creativity through Embroidery and Mixed Media. I have known Lisa and admired her art and online presence since my very first days of blogging. Her work with thread has always blown me away. I love Lisa's down-to-earth and friendly writing voice. You can read about her own thoughts and the process of making this book here. (scroll down.) This book is close to my heart, it's all about working with thread, and the projects take you to unexpected places. Totes, t-shirts, shrinky-dinks, pet portraits, sashiko, it's wonderful. Very fun and very happy. It's a happy book. The whole thing makes me smile.
My contribution was stitching a free-motion portrait that Delia drew of her Dad, which is the last photo here. The dots she always draws on his face are his whiskers.
Congrats Lisa, it's amazing!
I sewed this dress from Vogue 8472, which is a pattern I have had for a long time but never made up. It's got a midriff piece along with princess seams, so it's fun for contrasting fabric placement. It's not to be confused with this one with the same number from the 1970s which now I am needing to have, because it's so cute.
Some thoughts and information:
I saw Moonrise Kingdom and liked it a whole lot. It wasn't my favorite of his films, but it's still pretty wonderful. And how tempting is it to make that dress of Suzy's?! Gah. It's too young (and short) for me and too old (and short) for Sadie. I might make it (not so short) and save it for her so in a few years she can wear it. I just bought this vintage pattern and can draft the collar much bigger (see the black version.) The collar and cuffs would be so fun to make. Then she can wear it to a Wes Anderson Movie Characters Halloween Party that we all will be going to that someone needs to have.
I'm moving my studio into what used to be the playroom. That was just one sentence, but it feels like it could be a novel. I really don't like moving in any way. It's the stuff and the feelings attached to the stuff. I don't have much stuff actually, and over the years have been ruthless with what I keep. This goes for fabric, art, craft supplies, photos—all that. So what remains is potent and exhausting to handle. It's not that all these memories are sad, but they are filled with such strong feelings. It's exhausting for me in every way.
I've been really grumpy for the last few Saturdays as I try to move boxes filled with photos and life debris that I sort through until I can't anymore. Up pops without warning artwork I did in highschool, back when all I wanted to be was a painter, and old letters from my father who passed away 10 years ago. I start to feel like I just can't do it. But I have to because we are moving our bedroom downstairs into my old studio room, so our almost 10 year old can have her own room and not share one room with her 7 and 5 year old sisters. Very reasonable and fair, I say. It was my idea. She doesn't know she needs the space, but she does. And she will get a walk-in closet and her own bathroom, which is incredible to me. I keep telling her this. Knowing she is old enough to have her own room is also adding to my emotional ride.
So, I am about 70% done with the moving of my stuff. I have been working to music, the length of one album at a time. I crank up rdio (I love rdio!) and just try not to slow down and tell myself it's okay to cry while I go through this stuff, I don't have to try so hard not to.
The photos I just found are of my mom when is she a girl, my grandmother (her mother) and my brother and me when we were 17 and 18, 2 days before he felt left for college.
For Tie One On, my ongoing make-an-apron challenge, I have chosen a lot of apron themes. I think it's been 36 now over the years. You can see them all here. I usually choose themes alone, but often my husband gives input. Usually, he is ignored. There's a delicate balance in our exchange— he tries to suggest the worst yet funniest and most imaginative theme, while I ignore him and try not to laugh or react. He is a master of summoning up both the disturbing yet sometimes ingenious themes that are even funnier when trying to imagine them interpreted in a homemade apron. A snippet of our conversation this morning:
Okay, I need an apron theme.
I don't even know what that is. Is that a movie?
It's a TV show. How about Gone Fishin'. Beach Bum. Gold Rush. Black Hole. Road Trip.
Road Trip has potential. But I have already done Local Pride.
Great Lakes. Back to the Future.
I was thinking La Vie en Rose, but I just did Floral Fun and I have done Paris before.
Jungle Boogie. That's Amore. Jacques Cousteau. Under the Sea.
Under The Sea is good.
Smokey and the Bandit.
Oh my god.
Oh, Rhinestone Cowboy. That could be horribly good.
You can see the aprons from the latest theme, Spring Showers, linked over here on Tie One On. I still haven't chosen a new theme. If any of these leap out at you, let me know.
We just got back from a very special wedding in Georgia, and then a roadtrip through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virgina—ending in Williamsburg and meeting Grammie there. It was amazing. There is so much to tell. And I will soon, especially about sewing the girls' dresses and seeing all the textiles there.
I am going to make a photo book of all this, including a bit of text documenting what we saw (armadillos and fireflies!) and listing all the various minor injuries. The girls have all helped take notes so we wouldn't forget. I would have never thought we'd go through so many band-aids. The kids were just wonderful. They are already 100% back in action. We adults are incredibly tired, but they seem to not notice the jet lag at all. I am spending Mother's Day outside trying not to do laundry all day. I also plan to eat the chocolate I received and read magazines.* I was almost in tears thinking we would come home to rain, but not so. The best weather in May ever! Vitamin D party!
*And I will also ship out all the orders tomorrow, thank you for your patience.
I sewed this dress (Simplicity 2247) and am really happy with how it turned out. It's part of Simplicity's AmazingFit series, which provides a lot of tips about making it fit just right. It also has different cup sizes, which is pretty crucial for princess seams. This higher waist is really flattering. I was going for a 1930s day dress and it really has that look. I got the super lightweight cotton at Mill Ends here in portland and it really flows—it actually feels more like a soft rayon. I drafted a collar and added it just on the front. It is sewn into the shoulder seams so it won't get flippy under cardigans in back. I also didn't put in the zipper because there was plenty of ease on this dress, it pulls over just fine.
It's a good pattern, I definitely will be sewing another one. I was so inspired last year when I saw the costumes in the movie version of Ballet Shoes. Just beautiful.
On a different sewing note:
I extend the Tie On One apron deadline until June 1st to give everyone a little more time. Thanks for all the submissions so far!
I knit this hat a while ago and it's been my go-to hat since then. Here's all the info on Ravelry. I am sad to say I have needed it a lot lately. It's just not very warm or sunny here right now. I am big hat pinner. I like to wear them far back and then clip them, either with bobby pins or little clip barrettes, to keep them from falling off. Then I can still show a little hair up top. I keep the clips/pins on all my hats to avoid the cursing hair accessories while running out the door search. Knitting wise, I am almost done with a scarf. My one sock (really, an anklet at this point) is hibernating. I needed a break, but I am sure glad I took that class.
I'm still on an attachable collar, dickey, jabot, ascot kick. I have had great success sewing my own (a new red gingham one I need to show!), I knitted an ascot a bit back for a gift, and have also been expanding my vintage collection. This vintage crocheted jabot I found on etsy. It's charming.
The front part snaps off, so I can also wear it as just a collar. I was thrilled with this detail and I'm now looking to sew some removable flounces to the collars I have been making. There is this ongoing issue with wearing vintage collars and having them ride too high for most modern crewnecks—which are usually too low. This is an advantage to sewing new collars, I can make them a little lower. I need to draft some collars for the girls too, they love wearing them and it's pretty dang cute with whatever craziness they happen to have on.
on random life bit:
I'm almost done with the 3rd dress for our upcoming trip—to a dear friend's wedding and a side trip to Colonial Williamsburg. We are terribly excited. I still have 2 lace shawls and 3 mop caps to sew (the 3 mops caps I sewed last year have disappeared.) but then we will be ready!
Easter is coming and except for making a carrot cake today I feel woefully unprepared. We have had a lot of rain, garage flooding, a fallen out filling on one of the girls (she thinks it ended up behind the sofa stuck in some gum) a hurt back (that last dance class was so hard!) and a lot of long wakeful nights with the night girls getting the night spookies. But it's all good. My back is better now (a week and 4 chiropractor visits later) and the garage is now dry, so it can be used once again as a roller skate rink. We (Pete) dug our own french drain, which is what we are calling our trench we made with a shovel and some attitude. And the lost filling is getting replaced tomorrow.
We are finishing a theme right now of Marie Antoinette and basket making. The Marie Antoinette theme has been so much fun. Ridiculously fun. Some surprise books that have really captivated us from the library were, The Revealing Story of Underwear, Fabulous Story of Fashion, and Big Wig: A Little History of Hair. There were many other books we loved specifically about Marie Antoinette, but these were great tangents.
And baskets. And basket making. And the history of baskets, which haven't changed a whole lot, which is really thrilling. We have a few unfinished baskets still to be completed, using reeds and all that from this kit we bought. It's definitely better for the older girls—not for the four year old. This one using magazines/paper is more her speed.
I had been wanting to try fabric coil baskets, and also a braided coil rug, for a bit now. We tried these shown here and it was pretty fun. These, I have to admit (sheepishly) are made using a glue gun. I have mixed feelings about this. I feel icky about the glue/plastic being combined with fabric. They are also not so strong, more for decoration. The plus was the speed with which we could put them together, but it was burn-y and made the craft less hands-on than I intended.
Next time, a needle and thread will be used, even if attention spans are wandering. These were made from 1" fabric strips wrapped around about 6 yards of 1/4" cotton cording (this amount made 2 small baskets) and then glue dots from a hot glue gun were used as needed. There is so much online about how to make these, with several different techniques, including one all by sewing machine, which would be all me doing the sewing, but I am itching to try it. I got kind of weird researching baskets. I think I spent more time researching than making. I hope to add a few more basket crafts to our activities before we move on.
I've been continuing to go through my closet and pull out sweaters, dresses, and blouses and alter them after noticing that I don't wear them very much, for whatever reason.
This skirt was originally a maxi-length dress I sewed for the Colette book party back in the fall. I loved the dress and neglected to take a photo of it. I sewed it using a pattern from The Colette Sewing Handbook: Inspired Styles and Classic Techniques for the New Seamstress. It was the Truffle Dress, and I didn't make any changes to the pattern except I dropped the hem line to the floor. I used a lovely lace for the asymmetrical overlay. I am so bummed I didn't snap a photo of it to show before I changed it!
Anyhoo, this was made from a knit, but it's a pretty heavy knit, so it worked as a woven. I got the fabric at Mill Ends. And I must say here that the Colette Sewing Handbook is a wonderful resource to have in a sewing library. It's great for everyone, especially those who want to dive into garment sewing for the first time. It's really different than the Built By Wendy Sew U book, which is also a good place to start. The Collette book has fewer pattern variations but more detailed information on the construction and has a much more vintage/classic look. It's a real gem.
So, I wore the dress to the party and had a blast sewing it, but ultimately the longer length wasn't so good for everyday wear. I loved the fabric and wanted it in a skirt—so I cut the dress up, added a facing to the skirt waist (there were already darts in there from the dress construction) and then I added a back zipper. Oh, I forgot to mention I didn't put a zipper in the dress because of the knit having some stretch. Now it's one of my favorite skirts. I'd rather have a happy skirt than a neglected dress.
The blouse I didn't sew, but I love. It's made out of some creepy polyester and it's from forever 21. You know how that is.
Another knitted item. I have all the details here.
And we got the Beard Papa's cream puffs last week. It was sort of a comedy of errors. They are very nice and very unorganized. We got vanilla and chocolate—both eclairs and cream puffs, a chocolate filled donut and some mini cream puffs for free because they were made by mistake. They were out of the green tea flavor. They also said they were never quite sure when they would have chocolate on any given day. Did I say they were in chaos? No one seemed to mind, because it's all about cream puffs. So as long as people got them, all was well.
We got extra and despite what the info said about eating them immediately. They seemed to hold up fine in the refrigerator overnight and were delicious the next day.
I need to get cracking on my sock knitting homework for a class I am taking. Toe-up socks on 2 circular needles. Excitement!
My children are true Oregonians. What rain? What wind? It's not cold (yes, it was) let's play on beach!
I knit this hat while we were there for the long weekend a few weeks ago. The pattern link and yarn info is here on my ravelry page. I did the version where you make a swatch and then measure the head it's going on and kind of just make your own pattern, which worked perfectly because I always have her head nearby to measure. I added the red heart with a duplicate stitch.
I knit this a bit back, about a month ago I think. It is a gift for a beret loving friend. And I think she will like it. Giving hats can be tricky. But that hasn't stopped me yet.
So, knitting this beret taught me a few things about gauge, and about yarn, and about my knitting (which is loose) and about salvaging a project, and about felting a knitted item on purpose, and then about knitting sadness, and then about actually cutting a pie-shaped wedge out of a finished too-big beret, and sitting down at my sewing machine and stitching it up again, thereby making it fit a human sized head instead of a beach ball sized head.
I learned a lot.
I won't tell the recipient any of this when I give it to her because I firmly believe in not pointing out faults/mistakes in items one has handmade when giving them as gifts. She will, however, read this and then learn the full story which I think will make it mean even more to her. And she will laugh.
The pattern link and yarn details are on Ravelry.
not related to knitting-
I slept in this morning so I did a short yoga—this 10 minute (free on youtube) light yoga session and it felt so good. I had to share.
I sewed the jacket for Gammie.I was knitting a cowl for her and wanted to sew her a jacket to go with it. One great thing about sewing and knitting for other people is I can use patterns and fabrics I am anxious to try, but aren't really me. I love sewing Eileen Fisher-type clothes for Grammie and am always inspired by the lines/shapes and the knitted accessories they pair with the clothes.
The pattern is Simplicity 3506 and the cowl information is on my Ravelry page. The cowl looks wildly different than the patten photo. I made it really loose. There are notes about this. I love how it turned out, but had to decide early on that it was going to be quite different than what I had intended to knit—and that was just fine by me in this case. I loved learning this stitch pattern, sort of a fake cable, and I really what to try it again and make it more sculptural, like the pattern photo.
The jacket was pretty straightforward. I did eliminate the split cuff detail. It's a nice detail but it was causing me trouble. I used a wool gabardine for this, which I know now was not 100% wool, although it was labeled as such. When I pre-washed it, it smelled like wet acetate and it would not take a press worth a dang. So that was annoying. But it drapes nicely and looks lovely on her, as you can see. The inset pockets are handy and the pleat in back gives it great movement.
I have been sewing now while thinking of matching knitting projects. Or when I knit, I think of sewing a matching garment. Trouble!
Not sewing related:
It's now about 8" less long. Before it dragged on the floor, which looked cool and dramatic, but was a safety hazard and it was just a matter of time before it would snag, tear, and start to look a little too ragged 1990s babydoll for me. So, I wore it once long, and then put it away. And then just recently realized I would wear it so much more if it were shorter. So, I serged it off. It was cheap (forever 21) and a bit of an impulse buy—so I am happy to have figured out how to wear it more.
I have both been sewing (and buying) more dramatic clothes and wearing them once or twice, and then altering them to make them easier for everyday wear. This has been really liberating. It takes me a bit to get there. I never think when I sew or buy something, "Oh, I will change this part later." I just realize I never wear it later, after the party or event I have made it for. Then I try to figure out why, and then usually months later, I change it. I have altered a few dresses into skirts that I sewed, and they have a whole new life now. I know this isn't revolutionary, you know, altering my existing clothes, but it's amazing how I still forget I can and what a thrill it is when I do. Especially pieces I have sewn.