Christmas project (and hey, where have I been?)

I’ve been sewing Christmas presents for years and years. I often end up with at least one bigger gift each year. Quilts for my siblings, a quilt for my mother-in-law, stuffed animals, etc. I guess quilts are usually the biggest things I give!

This year folks on Jeremy’s side of the family emailed around lists and hints for presents. Our nephew said he would like an “interesting hoodie.”  Well what does that mean!? I asked his moms for further info.  I got that he would take any color, he wanted a thick hood, an inner pocket on the chest for pens, and a hole in one pocket for feeding his ipod cord through.  I asked his sister what image I could put on the hoodie. She suggested something from Dr. Who. Back then, in November, I had never seen an episode of Dr Who and didn’t know a thing about it. My niece suggested a “tardis” because a “dalek” might be too complicated to make. Whatever those things are!

I looked up pictures and saw that actually anything from Dr Who could be quite complicated. I decided to purchase some patches of K-9 and a dalek, and I made my own giant tardis patch for the back of the hoodie. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out and my nephew (who is 13) loves it. He apparently doesn’t leave the house without wearing it, which is definitely success in my book.

(And don’t you worry about me and Dr. Who – I am embarrassed to admit how many seasons I’ve gotten through since the end of November. I am an addict for sure! =)

K-9 patch for hoodie pocket

K-9 patch for hoodie pocket


The whole beautiful tardis, on the back of the hoodie.


detail of the tardis hoodie. I used a tiny zig zag stitch for most of the lines. I ran out of time and had to embroider the lines on the right side by hand.


The dalek patch is on the left side, on the chest and there is a pen pock sewn on the inside. The dalek hides the stitches from showing on the front.


I also made an awesome winter hat for my niece out of felted sweaters; a stuffed sheep for my 3-year-old niece… hmm, that’s all I can remember making for Christmas! Wacky. My poor brother got more pillows from me. I doubt any male likes that many pillows (he got two from me a couple years ago, and I think he got some from my mom this year or last.) He’s like Drew in Never Been Kissed – except he’s not the one making the pillows!  Oh, I made a little wallet out of ties for my sister-in-law.

I received some great fabric for Christmas and some amazing gingher scissors. I did not know what sharp scissors were like till I got these.  Using them… it’s like the difference between hand-piecing a quilt and machine-piecing; or like the difference between cutting out quilt pieces with scissors and using a rotary cutter and ruler.  All you can think is, “how did I do this before?” They are marvelous.

Here we are in 2013.  What will this year have in store? I don’t have any dates in store for art/craft sales or markets, though I am applying and planning to apply for several. I do have one new product in my shop that I have been thinking about and trying to work out for a year or two. I’m quite pleased with the final product.

penguin french press cozy

penguin french press cozy

cute penguin!

cute penguin!

I’ve made one owl too, but that was a special order so I’ll have to make more of those.

I’ve also managed to find some good black faux fur so I’m making black sheeps now; and my sheep stuffed animals now have legs which makes them so much cuter.

Here’s hoping 2013 is full of great art/craft shows, lots of time for making fun creations, and maybe developing some more great creations!



Scrap taming

I mentioned a few months ago my growing scrap pile. Well you can imagine how big it must be now with all the preparation sewing I’ve been doing recently. It is overflowing yet again. My local quilt shop (and I’m sure many other quilt shops) offer “scrap tamers” or “scrap busters” events where people try to get that scrap pile under control by making quilts and other things. That was the idea behind this quilt (which is still in process) and this one (which I apparently never blogged about?).

I looked at my giant scrap pile and decided something must be done. I took out pattern pieces for the three smallest items I have and went through every last bit a lot of the fabric cutting out lots of pieces. Here is what I ended up with:

a bunch of cup cozies…

My machine has a number of fancy stitches, but I’m afraid most of them are just weird. The few I do like are pretty cool.  I like matching the fabric, thread color, and fancy stitch.

A bunch of sunglasses cases…

and a bunch of mice hot pads.

I ended up with some good ones in this batch. Hard to pick my favorite.

Speaking of these mice, a pair of them will be in an upcoming giveaway! Stay tuned for the details, but I can tell you the contest will be open from August 19 to September 1. I’m not sure if any of these mice will be available – but there will be more and they will be just as cute.

Alright, back to sewing!

Things I Also Make – tie bags

These have to be some of the coolest things I make – in my opinion. It’s a little shoulder bag made with two men’s ties. Just two ties. Yes, men’s ties. Not cut up or anything, just sewn together. They seem amazingly complicated, even when you hold them in your hands and look at them, but they are pretty simple to make.

Confession: I ran across these on someone else’s Etsy shop… from Finland or Switzerland or something. I was fascinated and immediately went to find two ties to experiment with. Actually, I think the hardest part about this bag is finding two ties that I think go together well. That’s probably why I’ve made so few of these.

They are super fun and I hope to make more this summer.

Things I Also Make – tote/bag with many lives

This particular item has gone through three transformations.

First it was a “wine tote.” I saw these all made up, with empty bottles, displayed at my local quilt shop. I loved them! I thought it was such a great idea and really dressed up a gift bottle of wine. I whipped up a bunch of them.

But the idea didn’t seem to catch on at sales. People seemed to think it would be weird to give a reusable bag as a gift. What would the recipient do with the wine tote? Would they re-gift it? Or would it get tossed in a corner?

So I changed tactics and started calling them “gift bags.” This happened after a friend told me about packing the tote full of little gifts for Christmas. Of course! This reusable bag could be used as a gift bag for anything that would fit in it: wine, fancy pasta, socks, whatever.

They’re all decorated with a cool button.

But… the idea of resuable gift wrapping still hasn’t caught on with many people.  (Or maybe it’s because I only ever had about 10 of these around… not enough options??)

The most recent incarnation is my favorite, and I think it will stick. It happened like this: My husband and I often go out for walks and it gets pretty warm around here in the summer. So we like to carry some water with us. This gets to be a pain because often I found myself carrying the water. The thought of the ever-unpopular “wine tote / gift bag” and the need to more easily carry water on walks clashed together in my mind one fateful day. I grabbed a long strip of fabric and safety-pinned it to the gift bags. Voila! The “water bottle totes” were born.

I converted several of the totes to water bottle totes and then adjusted the pattern for new ones. These have done much better and frankly, they make a lot more sense. More people are carrying around drink bottles than are gifting bottles of wine. =)

But still, I wouldn’t be surprised if some other adjustment, addition, or change is made to this item down the road.

Things I Also Make – sweater pins

Sweater pins.  I wish there was a better name for these! But that’s the best I’ve come up with.

I learned this fun little craft at an earth fair festival last year. It uses felted sweaters and bottle caps; that’s it!

It’s hard to say whether it has been more fun finding sweaters or finding bottle caps. Actually, once the word spread that I was making these – people started giving me lots of bottle caps so I haven’t had to save many myself. I even brought some cool ones back from my recent trip to Kenya.

People seem to have fun digging through my little basket of them, pointing out drinks they like, or drinks their grandma or dad or friend likes. When people start to look really seriously, I know they’re looking for a particular one. Can you guess which one that is 9 times out of 10?

It’s Guinness, that’s what. And I’ve only ever found or been given two Guinness caps! So those ones are definitely in high demand.

Things I Also Make – cup cozies

About two years ago I was at one of the worst art/craft sales I’ve ever been at. The only redeeming bit was meeting a couple of fellow artists that I’ve stayed in touch with. One of them had a tub with a few cup cozies. Now I realize these are practically a dime a dozen and everyone makes them – but I hadn’t seen them before at that point. I thought they were really cool. The artist herself hadn’t made them; a relative had. She gave me one and said I should make them myself, since her relative was doing them in a different state.

So I’ve made a few. It has been fun to experiment with different types of fabric and embellishments (“bling” some might call it), and to experiment with some of the fun stitches on my sewing machine.

The thing about these is they are one size fits all. I’ve seen a lot of cup cozies that have straps and velcro and button closures. I guess those are helpful if you want to wrap the cozy around a mug with a handle. But frankly I think for a coffee shop paper cup, you don’t need all that.

I’ve seen this cozy fit on every size of cup – even the ceramic ones that are made to look like the paper cups! For smaller cups the cozy snugs up to the top, and for larger cups the cozy fits lower down.

Anyway, no matter what style you like or use, I think these are very handy to have around. I always need something like this when I get a paper cup since they are so hot, and it’s a shame to use up more paper with the paper “cozies” that are provided. Oh, another benefit I think, is telling the difference between drinks. I’ve seen my sister and brother-in-law get coffee drinks and then accidentally take a sip of the wrong one (face of disgust!). With your own personal cup cozy, you’ll never drink someone else’s drink again! =)

This has to be one of my favorite – recycled corduroy pants and the hemmed off sleeve of a shirt. Recycled!


Disclaimer! Okay, this particular item has been on Etsy before, but not for awhile. I guess I’d given up on the smaller items like this. But maybe I’ll try that again…

Things I Also Make – sunglass cases

One of the frequent comments I hear when I’m at a Farmers Market or art/craft sale is: Did you make all this?

Yes, I always reply, I kind of have sewing ADD.

It seems like most people stick to one or two things, when it comes to fiber arts. Only hats, scarves, and gloves. Or only aprons. Or only purses and bags.  I get excited about a variety of different projects and have to make practically everything I see or hear about that interests me.

If you’ve checked out my Etsy shop you’ve seen a number of things I sell there: tea cozies, quilts, bags, pillows, pot holders, and I recently added some sheep stuffed animals.  This is only half, probably less than half, of the number of other things I also make – many of which you’ll only find when I’m at an art/craft sale. I thought it would be fun to talk about and show off some of these other items – which you would never know existed if you didn’t come to see me face-to-face at a sale.  (And maybe ask: anyone interested in seeing these show up on Etsy??)

I’ll start with these eyeglass / sunglass cases.

My mom started making these awhile ago, probably in the early 80s. I remember helping her make them, for a craft fair or Saturday market, when I was in high school. My mom makes everything beautiful, and complicated. Her cases were always patchwork, kind of like mini crazy quilts.

It took a lot of time to make them! The binding on the edge was finished by hand. They were beautiful, but I think they can be just as beautiful, or whimsical or creative, with a solid piece of fabric. So that is how I make them now.

Okay I guess I get a little fancy sometimes myself!

And I also try to make a few in a jumbo size, for those super large glasses/sunglassses.

There are so many fun fabrics out there to use!

I’ve looked at lots of other glasses cases and realize it’s all about personal preference. Some people want a hard case (so they don’t crush their glasses!). Some people want some sort of a flap or closure so things don’t fall out. I don’t think glasses fall out of these cases all that easily, but I suppose they could. I think their advantage is it’s easy to get your glasses out quickly – you’re not fumbling with a button or snap or velcro or whatever else.

So there it is – one of the things I make lots of that hasn’t ever shown up on Etsy. (What do you think? Should I put these up on Etsy?)