Instead of unpacking…

I’ve been doing a bit of quilting…

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stitching…

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dressmaking…

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and finishing up (VERY) old projects (it’s a weekend bag I promised Andy ages ago)…

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and hanging out with this dude.

photo-5I’ll be sure to update you with photos of the new apartment very soon! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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Patchwork for Baby & a Super Fun Weekend

I’ve been a little MIA lately… It’s been so busy lately organizing for the big move (in a few weeks! ah!) and having lots of visitors. Andy and I just love having friends over and were super lucky to have four great friends from med school spend the weekend with us. One couple’s expecting a baby this summer and I really wanted to make something for the kiddo.

Did you know how many crazy cute sewing patterns are out there for kids? Of course you do, but I did not. I decided to make a little patchwork soccer ball—from Anna Maria Horner’s Seams to Me book—and I’m so happy I did! I found a charm pack of flannel in this super cute animal/ alphabet print, and paired it with some blue cotton from my stash.

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Once all the pieces are cut out, it’s super simple to sew up. The most difficult part is just sewing up the opening after filling the ball with stuffing.  And there you have it! A snuggly toy that will hopefully bring a lot of smiles to the little one.

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During the weekend, we got to soak in lots of Chicago fun-ness: a (super cold) Cubs game and gorgeous Argentinian restaurant.

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Seriously, it was cold.

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The happy couple (and bun in the oven)!

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Our crazy hat hair.

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Brothers!

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Cheers! To Minnesota friends!

photo-1And when we came home, we got to watch our two puppies play and snuggle with one another. It never gets old.

Cath Kidston Stitching

I finished my little embroidered Cath Kidston pouch! It’s seriously a perfect little project, especially for a cross stitching newbie like me.

The pattern is so beautiful (seriously, her designs get me every time!) and fairly simple. I had never worked with soluble cross stitch canvas before and while it was sometimes harder to stitch as precises as I like, I was really impressed by how quickly it dissolved in water. This stuff means you can cross stitch on any fabric!

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Overall, this was a great pattern: it looks complicated and impressive, but is really very simple and just a matter of counting. It’s a great first project from this book. And since all the materials come free with the book, what’s not to love?

The only problem was that I’m apparently much more liberal with embroidery thread than Cath Kidston, because I ran out of thread super quickly. I improvised a bit, using what I had, and changed the pattern a bit. In the end, no one would notice if I don’t point out the differences. Except me, of course!

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To finish up the project, I ironed on some light interfacing to protect the back of the embroidery (this wasn’t in the directions, but I always think it’s a good idea), then cut up all the different elements and sewed the pouch up.

Now I just need to figure out what to put in this little granny chic accessory. Maybe it’ll be my embroidery pouch? Any other ideas?

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On an unrelated note, I’m joining Izzie from Izzie Knits for a knit along! We’ll be tacking the Wolly Wormhead’s Everglade hat pattern. Want to join in? Just let Izzie know!

A Fixer Upper

I want to thank you for all your kind words about my recent sewing and knitting fails. Seriously, it helped me stop fretting and get back to making. Thank you!

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I simply didn’t add large enough seam allowances to create french seams on this Sorbetto blouse. A bummer, for sure. A very kind (and smart) reader suggested that I just take out the pleat to give myself a bit more breathing room. I’m happy to say that I think it worked well!

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I was a bit worried that tearing out the stitches would ruin the fabric, but after a little steamy press, it looked good as new! I then just added a bit of length to the binding for the neck and replaced it. Hemming the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt was a total pain. The fabric is so gorgeous, but super duper slippery and doesn’t iron well. After a bit of frustrated cursing, I got it.

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In the end, I think it’s a very pretty, casual blouse. I really liked the pleat, since it added interest and some polish. Maybe I’ll add a little reverse box pleat at the very top. But I am so happy not to have to start over. I can wear it now! Well, not really since it’s not warm enough, but you know. I’ll definitely wear it on my vacation next week (St Patty’s day, anyone?)! Don’t you think it’ll look great with a polished skirt?

As for my other fail, the knitted sweater, I still haven’t decided what to do… I’m scouring other patterns that may work better with the yarn, while also debating whether or not to just finish the thing. I’m being very dramatic here—it’s really not that big of a deal! Whatever I decide, I’ll let you know!

Double Fail

It just isn’t my week, people. I’ve been busy finishing up two tops for myself—a knitted sweater and a silk top—both of which are just don’t work. Bummer!

The knitted sweater is too big and boxy. I guess I should have casted on for the smaller size…photo (53)

The subtle different in color isn’t nearly as obvious when I’m wearing it as it is in photos for some reason. I *won’t* post photos of me wearing it, because I honestly look like the Tinman. Should I just tear it all out and start over? Should I finish up the last sleeve, block it and then decide? To you super-talented knitters, what would you do?

I also worked on a little mint top that I’ve been dreaming up for a while. I based it Colette’s Sorbetto pattern, and added sleeves from the Peony pattern. I added extra seam allowance to make French seams, and even added an exposed zipper to the back.

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All in all, I’m happy with the sewing and the overall concept of this top. But it’s too small! Ugh. The opposite problem as with the sweater…

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I love the color and the fabric and the design… It just needs to be a bit bigger!

I think I’ll be able to reuse the sleeves and bias binding, and just have to cut out larger front and back pieces. It’ll be pretty once I get it right, I just thought it would be this time!

These crafting fails are always a bummer. I feel like I spend a lot of time planning and measuring. But I guess not enough in these cases!

Has this ever happened to you? How did you salvage the project? I’d love to hear!

Log Cabin Pincushion

I have quite a few projects in the works right now, as you know! I still finishing up a quilt and a sweater, and just cut the fabric for a new sorbetto top the other day. Does this keep me from starting another project? No way.

After seeing this post on Red Pepper Quilts, I  was hooked. I wanted to make a little patchwork pincushion right away. And when inspiration strikes, you just have to go with it. 🙂

Here it is!

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This took only a few hours to make and was so much fun! I love how bold and colorful it is, and in such a little package too.

It’s simply a log cabin quilt block folded in on itself and sewn together. First, I chose a few fabrics from my scrap bin and then fussy-cut the center square. The print has a square pattern, so it was super easy to cut into a perfect square—I just followed the dotted lines!

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Then, I cut the rest of the scraps into 2″ strips and sewed then onto the center square, generally following this tutorial.

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I then squared up the entire blog to make it as straight as possible. It’s certainly not perfect, but close enough. This quilting project is so fun and uses scraps beautifully.

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I ironed on some fusible fleece to the back, just to give the block some more stability and weight. Once I cut off the excess fleece, I sewed the four edges together, leaving an opening in the last side.

photo (46)It kind of looks like a wonton, right?

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Here it is flipped out to the right side.

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And here’s the back. I think it’s super cute on this side too. After stuffing the entire pouch, I sewed up the opening with a blind stitch.

photo (43)I thought I was finished here, but I kept thinking that it needed something more.

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After a few minutes of staring at it, I sorted through my buttons and found the perfect bright blue one. Ta da!

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It’s a great little addition to my sewing table. I haven’t quite decided how I’ll use it—maybe for right near me at the machine or maybe a special spot for my hand stitching needles?

Either way, it was a super quick and fun project! I keep thinking that this technique would make an awesome pillow, you would just have to enlarge the dimensions.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

home

My sewing machine is now back in full force after a good cleaning and tune-up. The first order of business was to whip up a pillow cover with the home I embroidered from Anna Maria Horner’s stitching book. So happy with how it turned out!

As I was stitching this, I was also busy looking at possible apartments in Boston (we’ll move out there this summer). Needless to say, I thought a lot about home and what it means. What is home to you? To me, it means:

:: A space to be exactly who you are with the people you love.

:: Surrounding yourself with things that make you smile and reflect your style.

:: Carving out a small area for work and creative pursuits.

:: Relaxing with a cup of tea and too many Law and Order episodes and worn sweatpants.

:: A place for you to add layers of beauty, memories and laughter. #sappy

Leaving Chicago will be hard! We have so many friends here and love them all to pieces. But moving to Boston will be an exciting adventure—and I’m getting so excited to set up our new home there.

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Unlike Anna Maria’s beautiful pillow cover example, I decided not to hand-quilt the top, but I did iron on some fusible fleece to protect the stitching and make the front extra plushy. I cut two pieces for the back to make and envelope cover, using basically the same process (but different measurements) as this tutorial.

After sewing the case, I topstitched twice around the outside, creating a crisp border and adding interest. All in all, I just love how this turned out! I love pairing of this embroidery with the simple, shabby fabric.

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The pillow’s now resting on our bed with an Anna Maria pillow (obsessed much? yes!). It really doesn’t belong here; too much white. But when we get our new dark grey cover for our couch, it’ll be a perfect addition to our pillow collection!

Also, connect with me on instagram! You’ll see some more photos of my creations and many more of Bernie!

Hope you have a great day at home, wherever that may be!

My Growing Stash

Like so many people that sew, I just love fabric. I love great fabric stores, the latest creations from modern designers and vintage finds. To make a long story short, I have a lot of fabric.

Yesterday, Andy and I visited a super cool fabric store in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood: Textile Discount Outlet. And Oh. My. Goodness. It was seriously awesome—so much beautiful fashion fabrics at amazing prices that I lost my head for a minute two hours and forgot to take photos there.

After coming home and admiring my purchases for some time, I got a photo of the loot. I’m a lucky gal, right?

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The polka-dote, pink and mint green fabrics are charmeuse—I’ve never sewn with this kind of fabric before and I’m so excited! The blue fabric is a stretch taffeta, and the grey is a stretch poplin. The black fabric is some sort of polyester and the navy blue is cotton with a gorgeous subtle embroidery.

Now I need to figure out what to do with all of it! I’m thinking I’ll make quite a few simple tops, such as the free retro blouse and sorbetto top, a maxi skirt with the grey fabric, the Colette peony dress and a few other burda creations. Lots of sewing in my future!

2013 Goals

Now that it’s 2013, I want to take a few moments to think my goals for this year. I wrote up a list of projects I’d like to make throughout the year here. I’ll keep you updated on all the progress!

Here are my goals for crafting:

:: Focus on sewing quality clothing. When sewing up clothing, I tend to get really excited for the end product and rush when I should spend more time on the details. This year, I want to work on creating a few muslins that fit me really well and sewing up clothing that will last for a long time.

:: Try more difficult projects. I want to try sewing, quilting and knitting a more complicated patterns. Especially when it comes to knitting, I tend to knit things that I’ve done before. Luckily, my super-generous parents gave me a few craftsy courses for Christmas–the gloves and mittens cours and the couture dress course! This will definitely give me the push I need to challenge myself.

:: Take more photos! I’m pretty terrible at taking pictures of my projects. This year, I want to take many, many more photos, and try to make them a bit better!

:: Always enjoy the process. I love creating and I want to always enjoy every step and stitch. It’s a hobby, not a chore. If something is no longer fun, I’ll set it aside.

What are your goals for the year? I’d love to hear them!

Jasmine: My First Colette Top!

I finally made my first garment from Colette Patterns! I have quite a few of their patterns, but have been waiting for the perfect fabrics to let the beautiful designs really sing. I’ve had this inexpensive dobby dot voile in my stash for a while now. I realized that it would be just right for a first pass at this top, so I cut into it and gave it a go!

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I love so many aspects of this cute top. 1) It’s cut on the bias, so it’s super flattering and just feels nice to wear. 2) There aren’t any closures, so it’s easier (and quicker!) to sew up. 3) The details are just amazing: the collar, tie and sleeves are just so cute and make it much more dressy. 4) As you’d expect from a Colette Pattern, the instructions are so clear and very easy to follow.
photo-1I’ll definitely make a few more Jasmine tops. Right now, I’d like to create a white version and a black one with a different colored collar/ tie (maybe a pretty print?).

Next time, I want to change a few things. 1) The chest area needs to be a bit smaller (and not just because I’m slouching a bit in the photos!). I’ll need to use a larger seam allowance when sewing up the darts. 2) I’d like to lengthen the top by an inch or two. 3) Next time I sew it up, I’ll hand sew the collar down after the top is completely sewn up. I found it too tricky to set in the sleeves with the collar sewn down.

Thanks to Andy for taking photos of me in the top! Next time I’ll try to be a better model.