Monday, February 28, 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge

Hi friends,

Hope you're doing well.

One of my ongoing goals in life is to learn to take better pictures. I adore my Nikon D60 DSLR and it has really changed the way I think about photography. But I have sooooo much to learn! I was thrilled to recently discover the fabulous photography blog - I Heart Faces. There is so much good information to be found there and lots of great tutorials written by very talented professional photographers.

So I Heart Faces hosts weekly photo challenges and just for fun, I'm entering a photo in this week's challenge. The theme is "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes... Anything But A Face" and I thought this picture of Maddy's legs from our trip to Hawaii was perfect for the theme.

Wish me luck!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Looking on the Bright Side

Good morning. It's Friday. Yippee! Hope you have some fun things planned for the weekend.

I don't have much to share today. Just this photo.

We got a teeny tiny bit of snow last night. Normally (especially at the end of February) I'd be cursing this occurrence and wondering why I live in such a cold climate. But today, I'm choosing to see the beauty in what might be one of our last snows of the season. When I looked out my window this morning, I thought our doormat covered in fresh snow looked so pretty. I know that when it's 100 degrees with humidity in the middle of the summer, I'll be longing for the fresh, cold, crispness of the winter.

So we're headed out... in our coats and hats and mittens... to play in the snow.

Enjoy your weekend!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pillow Talk

Hello! How's it going?

We're still covered in dust but are soooo happy with the way our new little rooms are turning out. If I can get up there with my camera today, I'll share some photos soon.

Despite the chaos, I've been working on pillow covers for some old pillows I had lying around (hence my new spring blog header). Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a slight obsession with making pillow covers. They're just so easy and can really transform your whole room. I think pillows are the best way to add color, pattern and texture without making a huge commitment to any of those things.

I had been scouring flickr looking for inspiration a few weeks ago (check my favorites to see what inspires me). I took the best of maybe three or four different designs and came up with these...

I added a little pleated border to the pinwheel-y pillow just for fun and to see what it would look like. I think I like the added texture.

These are meant to coordinate with my would-be quilt with embroidered flower centers. I imagine it will be a long, long time before I'm showing that one off on my blog.

But pillow covers are relatively quick and painless. I did some straight-line square quilting around the center of each pillow.

The little man is in love.

Just a cute shot of his feet. Boy needs a pedicure!

Come to think of it, so do I! 

What are you up to today?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where I Buy Fabric

Good morning. It's snowing here. Again. I'm just about ready for winter to be over. Are you dying for flip-flop weather too?

Anyway - there isn't a whole lot of sewing going on around here right now so I thought I'd share a non-crafty, no-sew, simply informative post today. I've had a few questions lately about where I buy my fabric, so here it is... the lowdown. Note - I am not being paid by any of these sources. This is not an advertisement. But I happen to love these guys and maybe you do too.

I have two mistresses (or masters?) when it comes to fabric. Upholstery-weight and quilting-weight cotton. I am equally devoted but I fall in and out of love with each of them on a regular basis, depending on the project du jour. Over the years I've accumulated a pretty decent stash of each type. Here's where I buy all of the goodness.
I buy most of my fabric from this site. They have the best sales and if you spend $35.00 or more, the shipping is free. Not bad, right? I mostly buy designer quilting fabric from this source (they have all the greats like Amy and Anna Maria and Michael Miller) but they also have a great selection of home decor fabric as well. I admit that I have made a mistake or two due to the fact that I can't see or touch the fabric before I buy it, but for these prices, it all works out in the end.

Yes, I do buy fabric at my local craft store. I really love the designs you can find at Joann these days. And with those 40% off coupons, you can get some amazing deals. The quilting weight cotton can be a bit flimsier than the designer stuff, but I find that it's ok in small quantities and for certain projects.

Home Fabrics and Rugs
I LOVE this source for crazy low-price upholstery fabric. There is a location near my parents in southern California and every time I visit, this is the first place I go. Sadly, they don't have one in Chicago but maybe someday. If you are lucky enough to have one near you, run, don't walk and go straight to the back of the store. $3.99 CORRECTION - $2.99 (!) per yard for 54" home decor fabric. And it's CUTE! I'm not kidding (see photo above). Amazing bargains.

Textile Discount Outlet
If you live in Chicago and you love fabric, this is a place you should go. Yes - it's a little scary. No - you would never want to be there if a fire broke out. Definitely take a friend to hold your hand. It's OVERWHELMING. A full city block and three full floors of fabric and the most amazing trim you've ever seen for insanely low prices. They don't have the latest designer stuff... 75% of the stuff has been there since 1980. But you'll find a few diamonds in the rough.
A great source for ends of designer upholstery-weight fabric. I've found some fabulous deals on this site and all orders ship for just $4.99.

I adore the fabric selection at IKEA. Sadly, the closest one to my home is about an hour away. But when I go I stock up on both quilting and home dec fabric. Most (if not all) of the upholstery stuff is machine washable. That's a huge plus in my book. The designs are super graphic and bold and fun.

So there you have it. I'm twitching and squirming a bit right now trying to get myself to step away from the computer and not click on all of the links I've just posted. It's addicting, isn't it? This fabric stashing we all do.

Hope you're having a great day. I'll be back soon.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Thinking About Art

Hi! How was your weekend? Ours was good. Things are pretty dusty (and messy) around here with our construction. But work is progressing nicely and we should have our kids moved into their new rooms in the next few weeks.

With all of this moving around of rooms, I've been doing some thinking about the new decorating challenges and opportunities I'll be facing. Our guest room will be moving downstairs to the room our son is currently occupying. I never really got around to buying or making anything cute for the walls in that particular room.

So I threw this together on a whim a few days ago...

I've been wanting to use fabric on canvas for a really long time now. I think there's a collage artist in me somewhere and I have some ideas for future pieces. 

I found a charm pack at Joann in the colors / patterns that I liked and then sewed them together and simply wrapped and staple-gunned around an 11" x 14" canvas.

The fabrics are quite thin (not like the luxurious designer stuff) but it doesn't really matter. I don't intend to launder this piece of patchwork.

I'm hoping to make a few more and maybe even add a little embroidery or applique to jazz them up a bit.

What are you up to today?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bad News and Great (no... Incredible) News

Hi! How are you today?

Things are just a tad crazy around here. We've decided to do some work to our home and so we're living in a construction zone. There are mattresses on couches and desks floating in the middle of our family room. All of this chaos coupled with toys, toys and more toys makes for some serious danger. I can't tell you how many times I've yelled "Watch where you step!" in the last two days.  I did set up my sewing machine on our dining room table and am slowly making progress on my embroidered quilt blocks but supplies are literally EVERYWHERE... and somehow nowhere if you know what I mean. So that's the bad news. Sewing, quilting, etc. may be slow going for a while.

The very, very, very GOOD news is that this construction means I'm getting my own sewing room / studio. Yippee!  Hallelujah! Angels are singing! (Or maybe those are just the voices in my head). It's kind of a long story and I'll spare you all the details but we are having one large bedroom on our top floor made into two smaller bedrooms for our kids. The kids are in the basement right now (I know... I'm a terrible parent keeping my kids in a dungeon) and I'll be taking over the room that Maddy currently occupies. It's small and doesn't have any windows but it's a room and I have big plans for it. I'll try to share some photos once it's all put together. We'll be living like this for a few weeks but the end result should be well worth the pain.

Here's a little sneak peek at the embroidered quilt blocks.

I decided that I needed to jazz them up a bit with fun fabrics so I ended up doing a log cabin design, twice around. The final blocks are about 12 inches square. 

I'm adding vintage buttons to the centers of the flowers. More on my button collection later (another gift from my mom... handed down from her mother and her mother before her).

I love the way these are turning out and they're so much fun to put together! The colors are citrusy oranges, yellows and greens with a splash of aqua thrown in here and there.

The nice thing about having my machine and ironing board in the dining room is that I can go work for a moment here and there without leaving my family. Maybe this will make for greater productivity this weekend!

And speaking of weekend... hope you have a lovely one. I'll be back next week.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Good morning friends. I hope all is well with you.

I'm slowly but surely getting my groove back. Thanks in part to a little embroidery therapy.

I've been doing little bits of embroidery for the past two weeks. It feels so good to be doing this hand-work after so many years. I was a bit of an embroidery freak when I was 9 and 10 years old. I was the fastest and most dedicated cross-stitcher in the west and could whip up a Precious Moments wall hanging in a matter of hours. Ugh. The very thought of all that pastel prettiness. Yuck! My style has changed a lot since then but as soon as I picked up my tapestry needle, I felt like I was home again.

I'm starting out with some basic stitches... nothing too crazy here. I have this vision in my head for a quilt with embroidered blocks. Here is the start of my process.

I'm using a neutral linen as my base and created a template for the flower by enlarging the design from a craft punch I had lying around. The stitch is just a simple chain stitch. These blocks are 6.5" squares. 

The floss came from my beloved stash which quite literally was covered in dust. That's my lovely fourth-grade handwriting on the floss holders. As I was going through the box, I found a skein with the price tag still in tact. It was purchased at K-Mart for 17 cents, God knows when. I think the price of floss has doubled since then. Good thing I bought it when I did! :-) I guess my mom probably bought it. Thanks, mom!

My thought is to make up a bunch of these in different colors and add white sashing. I have something fun planned for the centers of the flowers and will share later. I think this project will take a lot of time but I love that I can sit in my jammies at the end of the day and mindlessly chain-stitch away. It's a nice break from all of my machine-sewing.

I thought I'd also share a couple of quick kid photos... moments that made me laugh in the last day or so.

Here's what I found when I woke up this morning...

Yes, that's a frying pan. My son very deliberately and purposefully arranged his cars and trains on it. 

And that's his sister in the corner of the shot. If Daniel only knew that Maddy was messing with his stuff. Oh boy! He'd go through the roof!

And this is what happens when I'm blogging...

I keep my recipe files in a drawer next to my desk and my daughter has really taken to pulling them out while mom is busy typing. Little stinker. 

I'm off to make a few more stitches while Daniel is at school and Maddy takes her morning nap. Then it's back to the daily grind of meal prep, dishes, toy pick-up, etc. Ah but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Happy Day to you all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Hearts Day!

Hi there. Happy Valentine's Day to you! I hope you're having a lovely day celebrating all of the wonderful people in your life.

Things are good here although I'm feeling a bit "off." I'm not sure if it's the time of year or what but I'm a little scattered. I've been sewing and crafting like crazy but I don't feel organized enough to post about my projects. I haven't been sleeping well and I'm trying to make sense of all the craziness in my brain. There are just too many ideas and too little time. Does this happen to you too? Any advice? Maybe I need to do yoga or something. :-)

Anyway - in other big news, my little girl is officially walking (tears in my eyes as I type this). This might be one of the biggest reasons that I've been a bit melancholy. I'm so happy for her and she is ecstatic about her new skill, but I'm feeling very sad about it. She's getting so big and is changing on a daily basis. I just want her to stay little with those chubby legs and chipmunk cheeks. Oh why do they have to grow up??? I'll share a picture of Miss Maddy walking soon but in the meantime, here's a little Valentine's Day prettiness that makes me happy even though I'm a little sad.

I found this fun project over at Under the Sycamore. Aren't those heart chains adorable?

I simply cut hearts of various sizes from a book of vintage love poetry I've had since my college days and sewed them together. I have to admit it was VERY hard for me to cut a book (books are sacred to me) but I haven't even glanced at that book in over a decade and I'm appreciating its pages much more now that they're hanging in my front window.

Pretty, pretty.

So that's it for today. I wish you lots of love and peace this Valentine's Day.

Be back soon...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Funny, Funny Story

Good morning! Hope you're doing well. As I type, there is a gi-normous cup of coffee next to me. I'm really, really tired today. I've just come out of a crazy productive period and I think I've hit a wall. Does this happen to you? I go through these phases... sometimes days at a time... sometimes weeks at a time... when I'm hyper-inspired. My brain is just filled with ideas and I can't turn it off. When this happens to me, insomnia sets is. The night before last, I only slept for two hours. Ugh! I just have these wild spurts of energy and I have to create. I'll share a couple of projects with you next week.

In the meantime, I thought a sweet, funny story would be good for a Friday. Especially one like this when I just need to veg and not think too much about sewing, designing, or creating. I know you'll appreciate this one...

We bought a sweet little Fisher Price dollhouse for Maddy for Christmas. She likes it but her older brother simply adores it. We sort of knew that would happen. He's three and-a-half and "pretend play" is pretty big in his repertoire right now. So he plays with the little mom and dad and baby that came with the house and they have little conversations and sit down to meals, etc. etc.

The other night, hubby and I were enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine at the end of a long day and were sort of casually chatting, opening mail, etc. Daniel was playing with the house. We were half-listening to his interaction with the little people and here's what I overheard.

"Now the daddy and the baby are having dinner. But there's no mama here."

So my husband asked the logical question... "Where's the mama?"

And Daniel said "She had to go get some fabric."


He was so matter-of-fact about it and that was the last thing I was expecting him to say. I burst into hysterical laughter as I realized how far my addiction had gone.

Just goes to show the little ones are paying very close attention. So watch what you do, say, and stash (fabric joke).

Ha ha. Out of the mouths of babes.

I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tutorial - 3D Butterflies and Hearts

Good afternoon! Hope your day is going well! I just got back from volunteering in my son's preschool class. It was so much fun! I was in charge of a Valentine's craft table and helped 16 three and four-year-olds glue hearts to construction paper.

So here I am at my virtual craft table with a tutorial for the butterflies and hearts that I posted yesterday.

Three Dimensional Butterflies and Hearts

Supplies Needed:
  • White glue (the stuff you used at the craft table in preschool!)
  • Bowl for mixing
  • Paper plate or other work surface (you just need a place to get messy)
  • Paintbrush
  • Assorted fabric scraps
  • Pencil or fabric marker
  • Double-sided tape (if you're going to attach these to your wall or other surface)
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread for hand sewing
  • Cardstock (to trace your templates)
  • Templates for your shapes (you can make your own or download my pdf below)
Click to View

Here's how you make them...
Assemble all of your supplies and trace and cut your templates onto cardstock. For the purpose of this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make the hearts but the process is exactly the same for the butterflies.

Now you need to stiffen your fabric scraps. You can buy commercial fabric stiffener but I usually just make my own with white craft glue (with a three-year-old in the house I tend to have it on hand).

To make your own fabric stiffener, mix three parts glue to one part water in a bowl.

Paint a generous coat of your glue concoction on all of your fabric scraps and allow to dry about one hour. I drape my wet scraps over coat hangers for drying.

Once your scraps are dry, give them a quick press with a dry iron to flatten them out.

Now fold your scraps in half with the wrong side showing. Place your template on the fold and trace with a pencil or fabric marker. Cut all of your shapes.

Once you have your shapes all cut, you're ready to assemble them. For the hearts, I chose three coordinating fabrics and cut a large, medium and small to stack together.

At this point I like to sew them together. I just do a quick line of stitches with my machine but you could easily hand sew a few stitches if you prefer.

That's it! You have an adorable three-dimensional piece of fabric art.

There are so many things you could do with these little beauties. Here are just a few ideas...

  • Glue them to blank cards to make sweet valentine's or birthday cards for your friends
  • Frame them to make adorable wall art
  • Use double-sided tape to attach them to your wall (I've had the butterflies up in my daughter's room for about a week and they haven't fallen yet!)
  • Glue to the top of a gift box for an extra special presentation
  • Attach a ribbon loop and hang from a cabinet or doorknob
  • Glue to a picture frame for a sweet embellishment
  • Sew several together to make a little garland

I'm sure there are many other things you could do with these. Get creative and have fun.

As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.

Happy Crafting to you!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thank you, Mod Podge Rocks!

Big thanks to Amy of Mod Podge Rocks for featuring my fabric-covered box tutorial today. I am thrilled to be on one of my favorite blogs. You can check out her post here.

If you're stopping by here as a result of Amy's post - welcome! I'm so excited you're here.

Butterflies, Butterflies, Butterflies

In addition to all of the quilting I did over the weekend, I found a little time to make these...

This is the Pottery Barn Kids-inspired project I was telling you about. The catalog featured similar butterflies attached to a little girl's wall. The lightbulb immediately went off in my brain. I have a (very subtle) butterfly theme in Maddy's room and plenty of blank wall space. I thought these would be a perfect addition to her room.

So I got to work and made butterfly...

after butterfly...

after butterfly.

These are soooo easy (and so fun) to make. All you need are some fabric scraps, white glue, a sewing machine or hand sewing needle and thread and some double-sided tape (for attaching to the wall). 

The best part about this project was finding fun places for the butterflies to land. Such as on a lampshade or a picture frame or the light-switch plate. You can really have a sense of humor with this one.

I've been writing up a tutorial and will share it with you tomorrow.

So then I got to thinking... this project would also translate to other shapes. Like hearts! How appropriate for this time of year.

So there you have it! I can't wait to share my easy tutorial (along with templates) tomorrow.

Have a happy and creative day!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Quilt for Baby Will

Hi there. I hope you had a good weekend! I spent the vast majority of it locked in my sewing room. How great is that? My hubby was kind enough to do the lion's share of the work with the kids so that I could play catch up with my sewing projects.

I finally finished this quilt that has been in the works for a loooooong time.

This quilt was made for a sweet little baby boy who I got to meet for the first time yesterday. I chose the fabrics and patterns to match his nursery. Per my usual - I added his name using my embroidery machine.

I used a very basic patchwork pattern for the piecing and straight lines for the quilting. There are times when I like to experiment and go wild and there are other times when I think simple is best.

I wanted the quilt to be appropriate for a baby but also have a sophisticated feel.

To package the quilt I folded, rolled and tied with a ribbon and my care tag left over from my working girl days.

What are you up to this week? Gearing up for Valentine's Day? How is it that holidays are so sneaky? I never seem to be quite ready for them. I did do a little Valentine's related sewing over the weekend, though, and I'll share photos tomorrow.

Hope your Monday is off to a good start.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Some Vacation Photos

I couldn't wait until Monday to share a few of my favorite photos from our Hawaiian vacation. It seems ironic to me to be posting these shots as I stare at the mounds of snow outside my window.

Hope you're having a nice weekend so far.

Dreaming of warmer days...


My sweet little guy

My gorgeous niece

And my gorgeous nephew

A beautiful lei

And my sweet baby girl

More of my Maddy-licious

And her yummy legs

Daniel enjoying the scenery

And having fun on the beach

Thanks for letting me share!