Monday, November 12, 2012

Please give.

As I mentioned in my last post, we were very fortunate during Superstorm Sandy and didn't even lost power. So many others were not nearly so lucky. I wanted to help, but what could I do?

Hippo for donation
Enter Gather Here. The lovely and generous Virginia and Noah have organized a fundraiser. All funds go to the Red Cross, BUT! there are a ton of amazing prizes donated by lots of amazing makers. For every $10 you donate, you're entered into a drawing to win one of these fabulous prizes.

Hippo for donation
I am of the belief that we should do good without expecting something in return (the good deed is all the good we should need, no?), but sometimes it's hard to know where to give or how much to give. So, in addition to making my own donation, I've made the hippo you see in this post especially for this raffle Gather Here is hosting.

Hippo for donation
If you haven't given any money yet, please do consider making a donation to the Red Cross. And if you have, feel free to enter yourself in the drawing to win something awesome. The fundraiser is open until 11/19, so there's still time! You can see how much has been raised HERE. So many people have given time and talent and amazing handmade goods; it's a wonderful community, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bonnie Quilt

Bonnie quilt
Oh my. You know how it is when your to-do list is so long and overwhelming that instead of diving in and doing ALL THE THINGS you just come home from work, drink vegan white russians, and collapse on the couch? Yeah, that. For me, it's not really a lack of crafting, though there is some of that; it's more a lack of photo-editing and uploading and blogging and linking. It just feels like so much effort; I've been skipping it.

Bonnie quilt
BUT! This is my attempt to return! And catch you up on some un-blogged project, plus some goings-on. First: the Bonnie Quilt! This is a wallhanging that finished around 44" square. It was commissioned by Bonnie, who lives next door to my parents (and has for my entire life) and just did a lovely living room remodel. She has a wood-paneled wall behind her couch, across from a big bay window. When she removed the old art she had on the wall, it was discolored, so she ordered a quilt from me to fill that space.

Bonnie quilt
The colors she's using for her new living room are a dark brick red, tan, and some deep green furniture. Not my usual palette, but she wanted lots of colors in the quilt, and I knew that Civil War repros were the way to go. Luckily, my LQS MarketPlace Quilts carries a wide variety of gorgeous repros, so I got exactly what I needed: cranberry, deep purple and blue, and a little teal.

Bonnie quilt
I drafted my own string blocks so that the secondary diamond pattern in cream would be created, and I just love that effect. The cranberry border has a narrow flat-piping to set it off, and I like the end "framed" result. I quilted a diagonal grid through the center bit, and carried some of the lines through on the border as well. When I was in Wisconsin in June (yes, this has been finished since May but is only just now hitting the blog), my mom and I helped Bonnie hang it up, and it was the perfect addition to her new room. Success!

So, here's a quick rundown on what's up with me these days:
  • First, we survived Sandy without even losing power. We are incredibly lucky and feel so very grateful to have been spared the worst. I'm doing a bit to help those who weren't so lucky, and will have more info on that next week.
  • New photos in the shop! I finally got around to some props and styling and re-photographed ALL of my inventory. Take a peek, and let me know what you think! I have a half-dozen more manatees to add once I get them photographed!
  • Impending Dear Jane update! For REAL; I'm on row H now, guys! I've certainly fallen off my block-a-week schedule, but when we were fearing we'd lose power during Sandy, I heated up the iron and prepped 5 more blocks, so I have some catching up to do.
  • Rob's book is coming out SOON! We'll be in DC and Baltimore in less than 2 weeks for a mini book tour, and I couldn't be more excited or proud. You can pre-order here, and check out some amazing art created in response to the book here, at Sundog Lit. There's a lot more coming, so stay tuned!
  • Last but certainly not least, I'm going to be an auntie! My brother and sister-in-law, who were married last October, are expecting Baby Swenson in March. I'm knee-deep in nursery decor right now, and the baby handmades haven't begun yet!

Friday, September 7, 2012


Newsletter #1!

Have you seen? Did you hear? Manatees are now available in my shop on Etsy! Newsletter subscribers were the first to find out. Want to be included? Sign up here!

zigzag manatee 6
I've always loved manatees, since I first saw them as a kid at Homosassa Springs in Florida, where we used to go when visiting my grandparents. My eighth grade speech was on manatees and conservation, and I had a plush manatee long ago, a last-minute purchase from an airport gift shop before we flew back to Wisconsin. Manatees are gentle, beautiful herbivores, and I knew I needed to honor them in softie form!

monsterz manatee 9
The problem was I couldn't figure out how to attach the head to the body. Should I shape it with a dart? Add a gusset? I was stuck. So when Abby Glassenberg announced a softie design class at Gather Here, I jumped at the chance! Abby is one of my softie-making idols, and working with her was so exciting! She helped me figure out the head, and gave me some great suggestions for the flippers and shaping the tail. If only I could have her help me with ALL of my designs... Her Design-Your-Own Plush series has been invaluable, and I am eagerly awaiting her new book on the same topic, due out this spring!

mod dot manatee 1
I hope you love these little guys as much as I do! They are SO fun to make! I use some quilt batting in the flippers and tail to add a little extra *squish*, which may be my favorite part of all!

2 hippos
Of course, I am still making my beloved hippos, too! There are plenty more listed in the shop, including this pink and green one inspired by fabric chosen for a custom job, and this sweet fishy one (at a discount!) with a little pucker on its belly. They all need good homes, and I need some more room for new softies!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Introducing...The Betty Skirt!

Betty skirt - border print 2
Remember this skirt? Well, here it is in full. It is a super simple construction: two lengths of fabric, sewn selvage-t0-selvage, and then gathered the heck out of to fit a waistband. Super easy. So easy I felt confident enough to tackle it with a border print (gasp!). So easy...I made a whole bunch more!

Betty skirt - Innocent Crush voile 3
Here's my second version, out of Anna Maria Horner Innocent Crush voile. I'd had this in my stash for a long time and just didn't know what to do with it. Proof positive that sometimes holding onto something until the right project comes along is important. I wear this skirt all the time now!

Betty skirt - Innocent Crush voile 2
This one has a few improvements over the first. Namely: pockets. Not as awesome of an addition but even more necessary: underskirt. (This one is made from a dark gray Bemberg rayon.) Because these skirts are made from cotton lawn or voile and are floaty. All it takes is one little breeze to pick up any bit of that 100"+ hem circumference and woosh! the skirt is around your shoulders. Yep, the built-in underskirt is a necessity, which means my border print is relegated to having a slip and / or heavy tights underneath.

Betty skirt - leaf lawn 4
And my third and, arguably, best version: the leaf skirt. This one is made from fabric I picked up at Mood last April. That was actually when I got the idea to make this skirt; it just took me a year to put it into practice!

Betty skirt - leaf lawn 2
Check out that fabulous pattern-matching for the inside of the pocket! Too bad I ran out of fabric and couldn't match as well on the other side...

So, why is this named the "Betty" skirt? Two reasons: 1) The fullness of the skirt totally reminds me of something season 1 Betty Draper would've worn, and 2) Wearing a super full and floaty skirt makes a girl feel like a total Betty.

Amber in Betty skirt
This skirt was so easy to make that I felt confident enough to make one long-distance for my friend Amber in DC! Look how cute she is in it! I love how she styled it with that striped top, too (the two of us are a little obsessed with print-mixing). I was able to use her measurements and make her two skirts that fit perfectly with no alterations! That made me awfully excited.

I want to remind you about my newsletter (which you can sign up for here!) and my Facebook page (here!). New softies revealed and online this weekend; I promise!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Catching Up: Tops

Lavender blouse 4
What's a girl to do with an overwhelming pile of photos to be edited (from, seriously, months ago) and then blogged? Just plunge in, I suppose.

Lavender blouse 5
So, this is me, plunging. Remember in the spring when I was making tops? Like this one? I decided I was on a roll and would finally make up some that were in my stash / on my to do list for years. This is one of them.

Lavender blouse 3
I bought this fabric probably 5 years ago. It's some kind of polyester crepe thing that I would never buy now. It frays like mad, too. But at the time, I was wearing a RTW peachy-champagne-colored top in a similar silhouette that I just loved, so decided to make my own version of it. Out of this lavender satiny stuff.

Lavender blouse 2
The pattern is New Look 6705 and, from what I can remember, worked up quickly and easily. I French-seamed the entire thing, and omitted interfacing in the yoke. This top is really similar to the RTW one I loved (and still wear a few times every winter), except the fabric is thicker and doesn't drape as well. I always worry about wearing things that are so flowy / blouse-y--do they read maternity? I paired this with a tight skirt, but I don't know if that makes a difference. Thoughts on this? I may revisit the pattern for some of the other options; doesn't the little puff-sleeve version look adorable?

Roundabout Blouse 2
I was on a roll, and French-seaming ALL the things, so I finally made up this Roundabout blouse from the pattern by Anna Maria Horner. There is a sad, sorry lack of these on the interwebs; what gives, crafters? Nobody else likes this pattern? I got the pattern to make the dress, originally... and then I realized that drop-waist dresses look godawful on me, so I scrapped that plan for the blouse instead. A blouse that I can't wear with a skirt, because it makes me look like I'm wearing a sack. This is definitely a with-pants pattern.

Roundabout Blouse back
The fabric I used (Valori Wells Nest voile--super old, I know!) is sheer. And directional. So I ended up making the Roundabout slip, in the cami version, to go underneath. And for that, I used more of the cotton-silk poplin I had leftover from CK's wedding dress last year. It's nearly gone! But oh man, is it luxurious. I French-seamed the cami (ALL the things!) and made the straps a little long, so it wouldn't peek out the neckline of the blouse. I gotta say, that bias-cut cami is a sexy little number. If you haven't made one for yourself, you really should. The silk is just an added bonus.

Roundabout Blouse 1
I think this project is successful, though if I remade it, I would shorten the sleeves to just above the elbows, tighten the cuffs a smidge, and leave the neckline pleats closest to the shoulders on the front undone. It's a leeeettle bit snug up top *ahem*, but with no other shaping, nothing worth performing an FBA on.

And there you have it: two tops I made in March, photographed in April, uploaded in July, and blogged in August. There is more where that came from, so keep your eyes peeled!

I also want to shamelessly plug my newsletter (which you can sign up for here!) and my Facebook page (here!). I'm editing photos for my newest batch of softies, to be listed in my shop soon, but if you join the newsletter, you'll get the first peek! They're awfully cute, if I do say so myself!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fashion-forward, or fashion fail?

Oh hai. Remember me? I used to craft stuff and blog about it here. I'm still crafting stuff, but I've realized that I am really really awful about downloading the photos from my camera to the computer, and then doing the necessary photo editing, and then uploading, and then posting. Ugh.

So, while I work on getting my act together (because, really, I have so much to show you!), here is something for you to contemplate: Is the outfit above fashion-forward, or a fashion fail? It's something I pulled together on Tuesday, channeling Mondo and trying to bravely match some prints. I wore it all day, but even though Rob and my friend Amber applauded my fearlessness, I'm not sure. Apologies for the crappy cell phone pic--the tee is this amazingness from Maryink, and the skirt is this. What do you think? Fearless, or stupid?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Licorice Dress, part 1

Licorice dress 1
Well, as usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short, as my mom would say. I finished this dress on Memorial Day, but then didn't have a chance to photograph it for a few days, so I missed the chance to be in the Licorice parade. Ah well.

Licorice Dress 4
Anyway, this is the final pattern from the Colette Sewing Handbook and the last bit of the Sew Colette sew-along. Sniff. When I first saw the book's patterns, I was really excited about this one. But as the time to make it drew near, I became ambivalent. That is, until I made the muslin. Because, holy crap!, this style looks really cute on me!

Licorice Dress 3
The dress took me a while because it's fully lined and I followed all of the instructions. I must've spent two hours on the collar alone, with all the trimming and grading and clipping of curves.... By the time I got to the sleeves I just wanted to be DONE, so I went with pre-made bias tape I had on hand. I'm not ashamed.

Licorice Dress 2
When I made the muslin, I tried it on with the Peony belt I had made and really liked the look, so I made another to wear with this dress. I really like the kind of pop the electric blue gives it; what do you think? Too much?

Licorice Dress sans belt
I pretty much just made my usual modifications to the pattern. The double-pointed darts are tricky, so I didn't want to mess around with them. I removed 1" from the bodice because I'm a shorty, did a sway-back adjustment, and extended the back darts both up and down for a smoother shape. I read over the finished garment measurements and decided there was enough ease built into the pattern that I could forego my usual FBA. Yessssssssss!

Licorice Dress hems
So, I like this dress. The sleeves are going to save me at a family function in a few weeks (cough, cough), so I'm happy about that. I think I could've gone a little more snug on the elastic, but I'd rather have the cuffs be too loose than too tight. Like Rochelle, I found this pattern to be a bit short. Instead of doing a normal hem, I used more of the pre-made bias bind, so I only took 1/4" off the length.

And that's that! I have another version of this dress coming up, and a reveal of what I did with the silk! So stay tuned...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mom, you're not gonna like this....

So, you all know how much I love my sewing machine tattoo, right? Because I love it. So so much! But... Well, lately I've been feeling like it's weirdly floating on my arm. I think the placement is spot-on, but while sleeveless, my arm just felt...incomplete. See here:
Truffle dress 6
So I, uh, had a little work done.

Sewing notions half-sleeve 2
Okay, it's kind of a lot of work (though you would be impressed to know how little time and money it takes to permanently mark yourself like this!). I had requested a loose half-sleeve of sewing notions, and that's what I got!

Sewing notions half-sleeve 8
I went to Witch City Ink, as before. I would (and do) recommend this place to anyone wanting a tattoo! I had wanted Molly to do this one, since she had done my sewing machine, but she's no longer there. So I had P.J., and he was awesome. Amazeballs. The shizz. For serious. Case-in-point: I showed up with a bag of notions, he took photos of my stork scissors, needle threader, thread cutter, thimble, some vintage spools, and a handful of buttons. Two weeks later I showed up for my appointment and he had drawn this. The pattern pieces with stitching lines (so couture!)?? ALL HIS IDEA! Amazeballs indeed.

Sewing notions half-sleeve 6
Sewing notions half-sleeve 4
And see how he added this additional pattern piece to tie the new work into the existing sewing machine? Brilliant. He also drew it right on me and avoided my inner and outer elbow, for which I and my tolerance for pain are very grateful!

Sewing notions half-sleeve 5
Mom: I know you said, after the sewing machine: "I hope you don't sleeve out!" I'd say I haven't. Yet. I'll also say that I'm certain I'm not done forever...and if I'm honest, not done by a long shot. I'm definitely going to want something when I finally finish my Dear Jane! But done for now. Sort of... I'm going back today, in a few hours, for some shading in the metallic areas and color in the buttons and thread spools. But then I'm done. For now. I think. ;)

**If you read me through a feed reader, many apologies for the multiple early posts! I have a hard time editing in Blogger in my iPad so was trying a new app, but it was publishing immediately! Anyone have any recommendations for blog editing apps?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Taffy, and a Question

At the last minute, I finished my Taffy for the Sew Colette challenge! Actually, I must confess: I think of this as a wearable muslin, as I never made one (a first in a long while).

Taffy blouse 2
I did read others' feedback on the pattern, so I made adjustments to the paper pattern before cutting out my fabric. I added an inch to the neckline at the shoulders, tapering to the pattern as written in the centers. I also did my usual removal of 1" at the waist because I'm a shorty.

Taffy blouse 4
All of the fabric for this blouse was left over from the Chantilly dress I made for my brother's wedding. I made my own bias tape, and I'm happy to report that cotton lawn makes a really nice one! It's thin but holds a crease well and hardly adds any bulk to the finish, even though all edges of the bias-bound garment are five layers thick!

Taffy blouse 6
Still, the top didn't fit me very well. The front was fine with only the shoulder width adjustment, but the back? Super baggy. More than just me not doing a swayback adjustment (which would've been a good idea, but I forgot, mostly). I ended up pinning out up to 3" in the center, tapering to nothing at the ends. I like the tailored look here--it kind of reminds me of my Jasmine top, with the center seaming.

Taffy blouse silk
So now, the question. As mentioned, this is my wearable muslin. In fact, way back in January, I bought this sweet blue printed silk charmeuse to use for this blouse specifically - I think I have 2 yards. Instead of making a regular muslin and using the silk, I'm waiting on some fabric stabilizer, which is in the mail but hasn't arrived. This may be a good thing, as I'm not sure this top is for me.

Taffy blouse 5
What do you think, dear reader? Should I make the swayback adjustment to my pattern piece, possibly add a center back seam, and make this top again using the silk? Or should I call it even and use the silk for something else--another Jasmine, perhaps? What say you? I'm leaning toward saving the silk, but could be convinced otherwise...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

An award, and a skirt

I saw a sweet blog comment this morning from Johanna saying that she'd found me via Rachel at Darling Autodidact, who had given me an award! It seems Rachel has nominated me for a Liebster. Rachel mentions in her post that she had been nominated twice before actually posting about it, and I must say that I've done the same! I was first mentioned by Ronit of Two Hippos a month ago and did nothing about it (shameful!). SO. Here is my appreciation! Thank you to all those fabulous ladies!

According to Ronit, "The award--whose origins are unknown, as best I can tell--is for small blogs and helps spread the word about them." The whole thing feels a little chain-letter-y to me, but I'm happy to present to you five blogs, below, with fewer than 200 subscribers, according to my reader. This should not be so! 
  • A Table in the Shade: Written by Molly, my former assistant who moved away (*sniff* she's legendary, I tell ya) and then found sewing. Her site is gorgeous and her work is impeccable!
  • Summer at Grandma's House: Kris is a really great quilter who uses a ton of color to make really fun stuff!
  • Ice Pink Stars: I just found this blog, run by Allie, who is super cute! She has a great style, some crafty tattoos, and makes some fabulous garments!
  • The Cataloguer: Another new-to-me blog, by Liz, who also makes some fabulous garments!
  • Gather Here: A local (to me) stitch lounge full of crafty people and tons of inspiration!
So there you have it. If you don't know these blogs, please check them out! And, because this post wouldn't be complete without a picture: 
Here's a skirt I whipped up on Sunday. I was in a mood to clear out a bunch of my stash fabric, most of which has already been pre-washed and earmarked for garments that I just never get around to sewing. I Tweeted that I wanted to wipe out a bunch of it with some garments; this is the only thing I actually accomplished. Still, it's AWESOME. I'm calling it my Betty skirt; full photo shoot (plus 2 more versions!) to come...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Aww, sweet! My aqua Jasmine top (which I'm wearing today!) has been featured in this week's Top of the Tops for Made by Rae's Spring Top Sewalong! I'm so jazzed because there are SO many great and inspiring tops in the sewalong pool on Flickr (305 at this very moment!) so I am floored to be included, especially in this week's group! Hop on over to Rae's blog to vote for your favorite here!

I finished another top last weekend and hope to get it posted soon. I've been a little busy, though, sending out my first ever order from my shop on Etsy! Thanks, Rita!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jasmine top in teal

Jasmine teal 1
I finally have a top finished that I can enter in the Made by Rae Spring Top Sewalong! This is the Colette Patterns Jasmine blouse, version 1 but with the shorter ties from version 2, sewn up in a loosely woven cotton lawn. It photographs a lot more blue, but is actually a teal color with bright white flowers.

Jasmine teal 2
Here I am wearing it with my Meringue skirt, which gets a lot more wear than I initially thought it would! The blouse is completely cut on the bias, which gives it this lovely silhouette and also means no closures! Yay!

Jasmine teal 4
Bias also means that the seams were a pain in the butt to sew with a loose weave. I think my fabric choice for this top made everything a lot more difficult than it needed to be. I ended up with a weird ripple / bump in the top of the center back seam that took me three tries to fix. Also: even after letting this top "settle" on the hanger for nearly a week before hemming it, the hem is still a mess.

Jasmine teal 5
So, tucked in it is! The only change I made to the pattern this time around was to shorten the length at the shorten line by 1". (You really can't just take length off the bottom of this pattern because it is shape-skimming.) No FBA necessary. Yay! I also used a skinny ribbon for the collar loop because making one from the pattern piece I'd cut seemed impossibly small. I think for my next try I will increase the circumference of the cuffs by a tiny bit, as they're a little snug going over my elbows.