A Christmas Gift 11 Days Late

Poor Dan.

For Christmas, I made Elly a handknit flower hat, 3 lace cards, a hero mask and a jewelry box.

Heck, I even made hero masks for 3 of Elly’s cousins and 2 of Elly’s friends.

Dan got to open a half-finished Phillies blanket with the pins still in it.

Thankfully, Dan just laughed at the pins and thought the blanket was a great gift.

On the 11th day of Christmas, I finally gave Dan the finished blanket, which he promptly put to use.

It is super warm, being made of 2 layers of fleece. If I hadn’t opted to use one of the fancy stitches for the border, the blanket would have been finished on time. Those fancy stitches are pretty, but they take three times as long to sew as a simple straight stitch.


The Pillow We Made Together

A few months ago, I had bought some fabric markers. A day earlier, Dan had caught Elly trying to color our couch. He had laid down the rule that one could only color on paper. So when I tried to encourage Elly to draw on an old T-shirt of hers with the fabric markers, she refused and spat the rule back at me.

After reading a few posts from the current Kids II (Kids Inspiration Design Series) hosted by Jessica of Me Sew Crazy blog, I was inspired to pull the fabric markers out again.

This time, I let Elly pick out the fabric from my scrap drawer. Pink.

She used several colors to draw squiggly lines. When finished, she informed me it was a witch’s house.

Then, I turned Elly’s drawing into a pillow.

Elly helped a little by pressing the on and off button of the sewing machine. The trick lies in convincing her to only press the on/off button. She desperately wants to press all the other buttons.

The best part is that Elly loves it!
She loves that we made it together.
She loves that her witch’s house is now soft and can be dragged all over the house.
Thank you, Jessica, for inspiring me to pull the fabric markers back out.

Fearless February update



The pictures look the same, no?

A side view is needed.

Before the seat cushion stuck out a full two inches from the chair base. It was so uncomfortable to sit in.

The seat cushion didn’t always stick out so far. It appears that my replacement foam cushions were thicker than the original cushions.

My original fix-it plan was to trim the seat cushion. Dan stopped me just as I was ready to cut open the muslin lining. He reminded me how long it had taken me to sew the slip cover. Wouldn’t it be easier to trim the back cushion?

Indeed it was. I cut a 2 inch depth by 4 inch tall section out of the bottom of the back cushion. Now the seat cushion fits snugly into the contours of the chair and doesn’t stick out.

It is much more comfortable to sit in. My feet touch the floor, which is a big deal when you are only 5 feet tall like me.

Fearless February Sewing

Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing

Victoria of the Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing blog is hosting a Fearless February sew-a-long. The goal is to sew something that you have been too scared to tackle.

It is just the kick in the pants that I need to finish the slip cover for the wing chair.
Months ago, I made the slip cover for the seat cushion.

Yet, the chair is still hidden beneath a store-bought slip cover that doesn’t fit, being designed for a different style of chair. It irritates me on a daily basis.

It’s true that other projects have demanded my attention, but I could have made time to sew the slip cover. I have been avoiding it like the plague. I even put the fabric away, too scared to cut it up.

Victoria says the way to tackle such sewing fears is to just pick up the scissors, turn on the sewing machine and just do it. Her sew-a-long promises lots of encouragement, which is good. I’m going to need it.

Curtains at Last

Winter came before Christmas. With the Winter came the cold. Yet, our living room was still sporting its summertime curtains, sheer drapes. It not only looked cold outside, but it felt cold when you got close to the windows.

So, after Christmas passed, I made it my utmost priority to finish the curtains.

Finally, the cold can’t sneak into our living room. As an added bonus, our neighbors can no longer peak in our windows at night.

The outer fabric is a linen and cotton blend called Embroidered Rico Rosewood by Suburban Home. The lining is a heavy flannel fabric in white for nothing keeps the cold out better. Though I ordered drapery weights, there was no need for them. The curtains could smother a small animal with its weight.

The first panel was sewn on my newer sewing machine, Babylock Decorator’s Choice. The second panel was sewn on the sewing machine that me neighbor gifted to me, a Singer Slant-o-Matic. Hands down, the Singer was much nicer to sew with even if it lacked the fancy buttons, such as automatic needle threader and automatic thread cutter. It went through the thick layers of linen and flannel without a hiccup whereas the Babylock struggled to get through just two of the layers stacked together.

There are two smaller windows that flank our fireplace in the living room that could use matching curtains, but once again more pressing matters are coming up, such as Elly’s big 3rd birthday party. For her birthday, I plan to repair the vintage quilt, hem the shawl and make just a few party decorations. It pains that there are not enough hours in the day to make her a homemade dress for her birthday, but alas there just are not.

And lastly, for those who love before and after shots, this is just for you:



I kept with the red theme for the original owner had the right idea. Red looks amazing with the red and blue bricks in our fireplace. My main complaint was always that the all over red was simply too dark for the size of the room. The first thing you saw were the curtains. Perhaps it is still the first thing you see for the windows are quite large and the amount of fabric needed is substantial, but at least they no longer feel overbearing and melancholy.

2012 in Review

At first I felt as if I couldn’t write a Year in Review post. It seemed like the year had flown by and I hadn’t had a chance to do much at all, but looking back that is hardly true.

The year started off with the Pottstown Knit Out and my teaching a class about knitting charts.

Then, every spare moment in the Spring was dedicated to knitting a hexagon blanket for I was determined to finish before the dog days of summer began despite not needing it done until September. The blanket was a wedding gift to my sister-in-law and her fiancée.

Oddly enough, even though I accomplished my goal of completing the blanket before the heat rolled in, I still knit throughout the summer. Elly got a new twirly skirt.

By the end of summer, I was harvesting the best crop of tomatoes I have ever grown. I only wish I knew what I did right so I would know how to repeat it this year.

In the sewing room, I made a flower dress for Elly and a strapless dress for me.

They were hands down the hardest clothing I’ve ever made. I told everybody at the wedding that I made the dresses, even people who were just making pleasant conversation and could have cared less. Darn it, I was proud.

Right before Thanksgiving Day, Elly and I ripped the old golf green carpet up.

Girl power rules!

Of course, everything couldn’t end in smiles. The dining room wall nearly sent me to the funny farm. It should come as no surprise that the walls still aren’t finished. The wind fell out of my sails not to mention the holidays took over my life.

I have not made any resolutions for the New Year. However, I do hope to publish 2 knitting patterns, finish sewing all the curtains and slip covers that I started last year and placed on the back burner for one reason or another and continue enjoying my time with Elly for she is growing up so fast. I hope 2013 will be a fabulous year for you too!

4 Matching Aprons

As a child I had a few pet peeves: being dressed in outfits that matched what my older sister was wearing, being dressed in homemade clothes since they always looked homemade and old-fashioned and being called “the girls” rather than by my sister’s and my names. It made me so mad. I wasn’t anything like my sister and I wanted the world to know it.

Naturally, I vowed to never repeat the same annoying habits when I was older.

I have broken two of those vows in making these 4 aprons.

For Christmas, I made Elly and her 3 young cousins aprons. All the aprons were made from my favorite kid’s apron pattern, the Basic Child’s Apron by Sew Liberated. All the aprons were made from cotton laminate fabric with one exception as mentioned below.

In my defense, I tried very hard to make each apron slightly different.

Elly’s apron is larger than the rest because even though she has thinned out this year, she is still built like a linebacker. The front of her apron features the royal chevron apple fabric while the reverse features the citron chevron apple fabric.

Luke’s apron was made completely from the royal chevron apple fabric.

Lily’s apron was made completely from the citron chevron apple fabric.

Poor Brooke got saddled with the leftovers.

I ran out of the cotton laminate fabric, so the reverse side of her apron is made out of home decorator fabric.

Elephants! Hopefully she likes elephants as much as Elly does.

Though the aprons look like they were handmade, the fun fabric saves them from looking old-fashioned.

Pink Chalk Studio had a helpful list of tips on how to work with cotton laminate fabric. The stickiness of the fabric was a bit annoying to work with at times, but the end result is worth it. The aprons can just be wiped clean!

New Life for Old Curtains

I hated the fabric when it hung as curtains in our guest bedroom. The fabric was too dark for the small room. It made the room look gloomy and closed in.

But on my new desk chair, the fabric looks amazing.

It brings out the warm wood tones of the chair. Plus, it is going to hide a lot of dirt and dog hair.

This isn’t the first time I have repurposed the fabric from the curtains in our house.

I used it to make this utensil case for a Christmas gift a few years ago.

Then, I used it to line a purse I made for my MIL.

It’s Waverly fabric. It doesn’t make sense to throw it in the trash can, especially when the price of good fabric is going nowhere but up.

Almost Done Christmas Shopping

The lion’s share is done.

I realize most people don’t start their Christmas shopping until December. Some even wait until a week before Christmas. I’m too much of a nervous Nellie to do that. Besides there are some key benefits to finishing early.

Finishing early allows me the necessary time to make at least one handmade gift for Elly. I’m working on two this year: a yarn boa and an apron.

The apron will be a larger version of this one as she has skyrocketed in size since this picture was taken a year ago. The design allows her to put the apron herself, something my independent girl loves to do.

More importantly, finishing early allows me to dedicate the entire month of December to baking cookies, cakes, gifts and pies. This year is going to be even better because I now have a little helper in the kitchen with me. She has become quite the decorator of cupcakes. The trick will be to limit her intake of frosting and sprinkles. Or I could just make more icing.

2 Ways to Hem Jeans

There are probably more than two ways to hem jeans, but the two methods I used in hemming the stack here are the simple turn under hem and the reapplication of the original hem.
Here they are side by side.

The jeans on the right were hemmed by just cutting off the excess and turning the raw edge under twice. I chose this method on these jeans because the original hem was worn down and frayed, since it had been walked upon for a few months or maybe years.

A closer look

The jeans on the left have the original hem sewn back on. It took me more time to do it this way and it was a bit harder on my machine because there were more layers of denim to sew through, but as you can see, it looks tremendously better. You’d have to look hard (or be a seamstress) to notice the jeans were hemmed at all.

A closer look

The Pretty Poppy has a wonderful pictorial tutorial on how to save the original hem on jeans. The only step I added was to trim the side seam allowances in order to remove the extra bulk rather than trim around the seam and unfold it. I opted for this technique since thankfully the seams on these jeans were not welted. I also ignored her advice to turn the thread tension to the highest setting. It simply wasn’t necessary or advisable. Depending on the weight of the denim, I kept the tension between a 4 and a 7. However, her advice to use the proper needle is spot on. A needle designed to sew through jean fabric is best. There is no way a universal needle would have stood up to the abuse of sewing through at least 5 layers of denim fabric.

I still have 1 pair of jeans left to hem. Despite buying petite, the jeans are about 3 inches too long. Oh, the joys of being short.