I’ve been playing around some more with my embroidery machine. I don’t have much to say about these projects–they are what they seem. Some fun, personalized, new items for the kitchen. Dishtowels and potholders get grimy and old and it’s been fun to use these new ones. The print fabrics are all scraps I saved from when I re-did my kitchen and from the adjoining living room, done in the same fabrics.
I did some more playing around this weekend with my new embroidery machine. None of my projects are perfect yet; if you look with a practiced eye you can see that I’m still learning about which stabilizers to use in which situations, etc., but I’m still pleased with my beginner results. I made this table topper for my dining room table. It is hard to find tablecloths (or little table runners, which I prefer for everyday use since we frequently use our dining table in the evening) to match the vibrant colors in my vintage-fabric dining room curtains. I was able to choose embroidery thread colors for this design that match my curtains very well.
Here is a close up of one of the corner designs on the table topper. This was a design pre-loaded on my machine, though I changed around the colors. I did the embroidery on a piece cut from a white thrift-store sheet, then sewed it to the back once the design was done.
And I finally made the first project for my new baby! A terrific Etsy seller, Sweet as Lemon and Honey, created an embroidery file for me based on my graphic and a photograph of my Yellowstone travel trailer. The file looks just beautiful, and I’ll make other projects with it to show it off better–I didn’t use the right stabilizers or maybe the best method for getting the front of the onesie situated on the hoop and it crinkled up a bit, but it’s my fault, not hers. Her file is non-crinkly and perfect. Still, I love love love this onesie! Even wrinkled up the trailer design is totally adorable, and this was such a fun first project to finish for the baby. It feels like now s/he is really ours, branded by our family trailer insignia. I’m a total hormonal fool, carrying this little shirt around with me so I can keep looking at how tiny and cute it is, trying to imagine the wee little person that will fit into it this fall!
This tote bag was inspired by the fabric, which I saw recently at my local Hobby Lobby and had to buy on the spot. When I saw it I knew I had to buy it, and that it needed to become a tote bag. The print has the shapes of all the states and their capitals and some cute little picture associated with each state. Kentucky, appropriately enough, has a horse. I didn’t use a pattern but cut the shape similar to one I saw in a book recently. I attached the straps like tank-top straps instead of tote bag straps, so the bag kind of scrunches up when I carry it. I thought this would be a fun tote for our summer journeys, whether or not we actually leave our own state. It seems like warm weather always sees me throwing water bottles, sunhats, and a snack or two in a bag and heading out the door. Of course I had to incorporate my new embroidery machine toy into the project somehow, so I put my initials on the front pocket.
I lined the bag with a thrift-store sheet for added body and durability, and put a pocket inside and made a little button tab closure to keep all our goodies from spilling out. Now I just need some more warm, pretty days like today to use it! There is something very satisfying, when one is pregnant, about buying or making something that will not be outgrown over the course of the next few months.
Last year I made boo-boo ice packs for my kids. This is an old photo of Worth using his. They are just little 7-inch square pillowcases made out of flannel. When one of my kids needs first aid for some physical pain they believe they have suffered, supplying then with an ice pack stops the crying. I put some ice cubes in a quart-size zipper-lock bag then slip the baggie inside the pillowcase. When the pack has worked its magic I dump out the ice and dry out the zipper lock bag over my knife rack so I can reuse it next time. Worth’s pack is made out of monkey fabric and Dorothy’s is made from Hello Kitty, thus we call the packs “boo-boo monkey” and “boo-boo kitty.” They work miracles. Whether or not they are medically indicated is not really the point.
For Mother’s Day this year my family bought me a starter embroidery machine. I’m still playing with it and learning to use it right now. It’s an inexpensive and simple setup as far as embroidery machines go, but I think I will really enjoy it. One of my first projects to try out the new machine was to make a boo-boo ice pack for a little friend of ours. I got the caterpillar embroidery file free from Brother’s website. My kids, of course, call this project the “boo-boo caterpillar.” I don’t always think embroidered kids’ things are cute, partly because they are often done in a style I don’t care for, and also because personalizing something really cuts down on its ability to be reused, but I have no qualms about turning a 7-inch square of flannel into something that will be destined to serve an important purpose for only one small little person. If Kenny gets as many ice-worthy injuries as my kids (or at least believes he does), he will wear this little item out.
And I made more new pillows, again. I feel like I blog about pillows a lot! But I love to change out the slips on my sofa pillows seasonally. I’d made these green and white ikat slips last spring, but added the smaller ones this year. We just replaced our sofa (don’t laugh, I know it looks very similar to the old one, but I loved the old one and it was getting holes all over it!) and I thought with this new configuration we’d need more throw pillows to really get comfy. I love these fluffy, soft down pillow forms from fabric.com. They aren’t the firm, perky kind you’d buy to always look perfect–they are squishy and soft and wonderful for molding just the right way when you’re reading on the sofa. Now that I’ve added the new ones I get to indulge in a whole year’s worth of new pillow-slip-making to keep them covered and seasonal! This is the fabric on the green pillows, and this is what’s on the new ones.
I thought my Belle needed to have some new accessories for spring. I made her a collar from scraps of Dorothy’s new dress. These collars are easy to make because I don’t make them adjustable, I just make them the right size to fit my particular dog. I stitch fabric onto 1 inch webbing, sew on a reinforced D-ring, and put parachute clasps at each end.
On the second collar I tried something new. Sometimes it is difficult to get Belle’s metal tags off the thick D-rings on these collars. I had a half-sheet of iron-on transfer paper for dark fabrics sitting around, so I printed Belle’s name and address (some of which I rubbed out in the photo) several times onto the sheet, clipped them out, and ironed one on to this second new collar. Now all her pertinent information is right there on the collar instead of dangling below. This will be the perfect collar for walks in the woods because she won’t get her tag snagged on sticks, and it will make changing collars easier because it can go right on without my having to change over her metal tag. I saved the other printed addresses for future collars.
This was Kentucky Derby weekend here in Louisville, a special day of big hats and pretty dresses…and rain. We did not go to the races but I did finish this new dress just in time to wear it to watch the race in the indoor comfort of a party. I used a pattern from the book Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby by Anna Marie Horner. I read several blog reviews of this Mariposa dress/tunic pattern before I cut into my fabric, so I took some online advice and cut the skirt longer and the front modesty panel a little higher, and was glad I did both of those things.
I made the size S/M of this pattern, also based on the recommendations of other online crafters, whereas without that advice I probably would have made the M/L for myself. The top of this size fits me perfectly, but I’m concerned the skirt will not continue to fit later in my pregnancy. The column skirt is not one of my favorite styles on me anyway–I like a skirt with a little flare–and I think that having a flouncier style on the bottom might have helped me get longer use out of this dress, but that’s just personal preference. If I were to make it again I think I’d draft my own A-line skirt.
If I were going to add my own advice to the internet wisdom surrounding this pattern, I’d say that I went back and added some loops in the empire seam under the arms to hold up the sash. Otherwise it was drooping around the back of me in an unflattering way. I guess then the loops might show if you were going to wear the ties tied in the front instead, but I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever do that, because I object to tying goofy bows over the top of my pregnant belly. I don’t necessarily think it looks awful on other people (or in the pattern) but I just won’t do it myself. Ever. We all have to have our own standards, right?
Last fall I hit some nice clearance sales and picked up some off-season summer clothes for my kids to grow into. This spring I pulled them out and, all new and with tags and exciting, except that during the intervening six months my son Worth apparently decided he will no longer wear plain pocket t-shirts. They are “plain” and “babyish.” Because, you know, all really big boys go around with gigantic lizards or tractors on their shirts, right? Hmmmm. But instead of just giving up on these perfectly nice shirts I decided to try and liven them up a bit to suit my boy’s taste. I made freezer paper stencils and painted little “friends” coming out of the pockets. Now he likes them and wears them quite happily. I’m a little horrified that I ruined perfectly nice shirts with my bad freehand “art,” but am just going to focus on the positive. I told him this one was a little buddy–but he calls it a pocket monster.
And finally…I realize this is probably going to end up on one of those websites where mean women make fun of other people’s blogs, but whatever. In retrospect I should have printed images on the paper to make my stencils, but I felt all self-empowered to do my own bad art, so I did. This one was supposed to be a dog, but Dorothy thinks it is a giraffe, Rob says llama, and Worth calls it a wolf. Really, I don’t care, I’m just glad it is shirt #3 that my son will now quite happily put on and wear.
I’m finally back at the sewing machine! I’m now sixteen weeks pregnant and feeling much better. Just this last week I’ve been branching out beyond the necessary household duties to also do some fulfilling creative stuff too. I made the first project from a book I’ve been enjoying browsing through, Girl’s World. This dress is called Mary’s Favorite Sash Dress. It’s a pretty simple pattern with no zippers or closures at all. That makes it a bit wide in the shoulders for my narrow-shouldered girl, but it’s still a cute look. I tied the sash in the front, but she informs me that she intends to wear it with the bow in the back. Whatever… (grin)
I used this Bella Blossom Aqua/Orange quilting fabric from Fabric.com. It’s a thick weight for apparel sewing, but I think it works well for a dress like this that wants to have a little fullness and substance. One of my favorite things about this pattern was the cute way of using bias tape to finish off the bodice. I used a contrasting orange and it’s sweet. I finished off the skirt hem the same way, but with wider tape. I was going to use more of the contrast for the sash but ran out of fabric. Oops. I’ll definitely be making more patterns from this book. The sizing seemed to be right on and the instructions were clear. I especially like that the sizes go all the way up through bigger girls. If this new babe is a girl I’ll be able to get several years of “matching” big girl/little girl patterns from this book. We find out May 28!
Before I write about these sweet slippers for my niece I have a confession to make. I’ve been working on a very homemade thing but not blogging about it one bit, and it’s been taking all my time and energy, sapping my strength, making me sick, and requires no talent or ingenuity to make–I’m going to have a baby! In another week or so I’ll be over this first trimester and hopefully (if prior experience holds true) feeling more like myself again, back off the sofa, and back at the sewing machine or yarn bag. Then the explosion of cute homemade baby things will (hopefully) start, and if all goes well in the first half of October I’ll be making another post something like this one from three years ago.
Back to these slippers, though…I crocheted these in the first first week after I found out about my pregnancy, when I realized I probably only had 10 days or so between finding out the news and having the morning (all-day?) sickness yuckies hit, so I better stockpile everything crafty I’d need for the next two months. I made both of my kids’ birthday outfits and both nieces’ birthday gifts during those busy ten days. These were a birthday gift for my niece Maggie who turned four last week. I crocheted them using this pattern from Ravelry using Wool of the Andes yarn from Knitpicks.
The pattern worked up quickly, although I’m not sure if there weren’t a few errors in the stitch counts. I would add or subtract a stitch or two to keep my stitch count on par with the pattern in the various rows, but I was off often enough during both slippers that I’m inclined to think the pattern itself was in error on some rows. I think there was some inconsistency about whether they wanted me to crochet in the first stitch on the other side of the turning chain or not. But in any case, it was no trouble to adjust mine a bit to stay consistent with the pattern (don’t want two slippers that aren’t the same size!) and the final result is as cute as can be. I used fabric glue to attach the little flowers, and I made soles out of this Slipper Gripper stuff and glued them to the bottom so Miss Maggie won’t go sliding all over her hardwood floors in these.
I’ve been neglecting to post about some camera bags I’ve made recently because I wanted more pics, but I don’t have any so here goes anyway. I made the camera bag in the picture for my mom, and I made another with a pretty chevron print for my sister-in-law. Both are basic fabric bags made from sturdy home decorator fabric, but lined with a soft pad on the bottom and then snaked inside with a long strip of padded fabric to move around and adjust to perfectly cushion the camera and accessories. I was initially hesitant to construct a camera bag because of the necessity of good padding, but I think the long cushy strip works pretty well. For my sister-in-law’s bag I used a purse pattern from a book; for this one I cut side panels the size of standard copy paper, snipped and sewed triangular slits in the corners to give it some shape, then attached them with a long side panel strip of fabric 6 inches wide. For the top sewed a zipper to two strips, then cut the zipper panel to be six inches wide as well. The boxy shape seems particularly handy for accessing the contents. Mom wanted a neutral fabric that wouldn’t shame my father when it was his turn to carry it around, so I chose the map print appropriate to all their retirement travels.