Tote-for-Tote—the DGS Host Swap

So, things have been a wee bit quiet around here lately. Sorry about that. Life has been busy this summer and I am just happy to report that a quiet blog has not meant that there's been any lack of sewing for me.

This past weekend, I finished up a project for my super secret swap partner in the do. Good Stitches Host Swap. We decided to create a swap for the hosts of DGS so that we could get to know each other a bit more. And, while I think I successfully got to know a little more about one of the hosts (my partner—who shall rename nameless until she receives her goodies), I didn't have much of a chance to get to know many of the other ladies. It's just been such a busy couple of months personally that I had to take a little break from most social media. I gathered from the level of activity in our Flickr group that most of us were likely busy this summer and I'm probably not the only one who didn't get a chance to connect as well as we might have liked. I'm hopeful that we might get to do this again sometime, though. All that said, it was really nice to participate in this swap and to get to know at least one new person. It's such a treat to get a glimpse into someone else's world and to create for them! It's a good kind of tit-for-tat . . . or, as I like to say this time, tote-for-tote (since the 241 tote seemed to be so popular in this swap).

So, I had quite a treat of a partner. I got the sense that she probably has quite an easy-going vibe about her. In the end, after thinking about her likes (colors and fabrics) and the items she requested, I ended up with this oversized spin (25% enlarged) on Noodlehead's 241 Tote. I have a sneaky suspicion that she might like it.

It wasn't my first foray into making this tote and, I must say, I enjoyed making this one as much as I enjoyed making the first. (Oh, but you wouldn't know how much I enjoyed making it the first time because I never posted pictures or blogged about it!) Seriously, though, this pattern is really simple and a pleasure to make.

I must say, I really dragged my feet on starting this bag for my partner quite needlessly. (Who am I kidding? I always drag my feet on swap projects . . . too many possibilites!) It was the first thing that came to mind when I received said partner as, well, my partner. So, despite spinning my wheels to come up with other ideas for her for weeks, I think it turned out just fine.

I ventured into some of my treasured Heather Bailey Pop Garden stash for this project and tried to pick colors that I knew my partner would love. I am pretty sure pink and lime green were listed somewhere among her favorites.

I, like pretty much everyone else in blogland, am really loving the use of Timeless Treasures' sketch print and the similar Alexander Henry heath print . . . and using my precious stash of sketch in black and white on this tote was no mistake. I absolutely love how it works with the bold florals. Love, love, love this combination!

My pretty package (along with some extra goodies—a rainbow of scraps and some Olympic cookies) is on its way to my partner now. Can't wait until she gets this and I hope she loves the tote as much as I do!

PS: Don't you just LOVE it when your swap partner comments your Flickr pictures? Yeah . . . I do, too.


My Pyrex Rainbow

It's no secret that I love color. My kitchen is a total rainbow of luscious hues created by Fiesta dinnerware, Le Creuset pots, Orla Kiely coffee mugs, and a mishmash of unique dishes. It's quite eclectic, really.

About a year and a half ago, my mom and aunt gave me a bunch of gorgeous aqua Pyrex for my birthday. Since then, I've been able to resist (barely) picking up more pieces because when I've found them at antique stores or garage sales, they haven't been in the best shape.

Well, last week when I came across an amazing booth full of gorgeous, well cared for Pyrex, I couldn't resist. This photo totally doesn't do the booth justice—but if you love vintage Pyrex, you'll be able to envision how beautiful this site truly was to my eyes.

Fortunately, Chris didn't resist too much and we came home with a lovely stack of pieces to add to my aqua collection.

Oh yeah, and there were a couple of ball jars, too. I love those lids!

When we went to the flea market that morning, I knew that the pieces I needed to add to my collection were another casserole dish (see the chartreuse piece on the top left in the photo above) and another quick bread loaf pan (the lighter chartreuse one on the right in the middle of the stack in above photo). So, at least I got a couple of things that I needed—not just wanted. The minty green bowl and the aqua bowl will probably go live with my mom (if she can get them out of my house!).

Oh, and I have to share this picture because I love how these colors look with my Orla Kiely for Target tablecloth. These pieces are still sitting on my kitchen table a week later because I just love how they look together with that fabric! So lovely!


Knocking Out Another UFO

That's right, friends . . . another UFO complete!

It looks like I first blogged about this one back in September of 2010 right after I'd purchased this lovely Japanese fabric. It was one of those situations where I had cut out the pattern and begun some of the sewing only to realize that I wasn't going to be happy with the finished product. So, I stuck it in my in-progress basket and left it there. And left it there. And left it there.

This is the Izzy & Ivy Lola Goes Shoppin' pattern—sans bow around the bag.

Doesn't really look like it, does it?Believe me, leaving off that bow kills me. But the construction of the bag didn't really allow for it.

I had added some fusible interfacing to the interior of the bag because I didn't want it to be slouchy and when it came time to add the tabs around the body of the bag for the bow to slide through, I just knew there was no way that the bow was going to look right. So, I left it off. Regrettably.

One of my favorite parts of the bag is the exterior zipper pocket. It was my first time adding one of these to a bag (or anything for that matter) and I not only love how it functions but am really pleased with how it turned out and how easy it was to install.

May this serve as my reminder to not be afraid of trying new things!

I also really love how this gold fabric from Jo-Ann works on the inside and contrasts so well in color and scale with the Isso Ecco Japanese exterior print.

A bag this size, especially without the exterior bow to help hold things together, probably needed a stronger magnetic snap—or maybe just more than one. I don't think it's a big deal but something to consider if I make this pattern again.

The one thing that really bugs me about my construction on this bag is the binding that goes around the entire opening and handles. it is just so incredibly puckery and I really don't understand it. I used exactly the method the instructions specified. Exactly the product they suggested. I don't know how they made it look so good in their product shots, but I am really not happy with how that worked out on mine. I think if I do this again, I will very likely make my own bias tape binding from a washed fabric so that it is softer and more pliable than this prepackaged bias tape binding (which, I really have no problem with normally and use on quilts all the time).

So, now that this one is done and I wasn't feeling the connection, I allowed my mother to adopt it. Maybe once she wears it in a bit and it gets that slouchy quality back I'll steal it, add the bow, and tote it around for the fall. Maybe.


Quilts for the Itty Bitties

In April I had the privilege of planning the month's quilt for the Faith circle of do. Good Stitches. Around the middle of March I began thinking about who we could create a quilt for in my faith community (or my work community since I work for a religious organization) and just as I was about to reach out to find out if there were any families or children in need, I heard two heartbreaking stories of tiny newborns who arrived well before their time.

My tangential relationship with both of these mothers (one I knew through a friend of a friend in college and the other is a girl from another department at work) and the fact that both my sister and sister-in-law were due around the same time as these two were originally due made my heart truly go out to them. Seeing the pictures of babies who were barely two and three pounds and hearing and reading the words of complete and utter strength and the obvious faith of each of these mothers on Facebook and their blogs was astounding to me. And, despite the amazing strength they were each publicly portraying, I could only imagine that they were hurting, too . . .

And, so, I decided to ask the Faith circle to help me wrap them in love and comfort.

This week I'll be shipping off a blanket to each of these new moms. One of them has already been able to bring her sweet, tiny blessing home. The other is still waiting for that day—but I do have faith that that day will come. Soon.

So, thank you lovely ladies of the Faith circle for stitching these with me. I hope they bring comfort to the mothers and love and joy to these two beautiful baby girls.


The Giant Halfsquare Triangle UFO

Remember this quilt I wasn't quite so sure of? 

Inspired by these fun napkins?

Well, I was sick of looking at a basket full of UFOs and being reminded of my indecisiveness so I am just busting them out and working on them and trying not to over-think everything.

Once put together randomly, I actually quite like this—even all the spots where multiples of the same colored triangle gather don't bother me. 

Now, to add another column to make this square or not?


Sweet Swaddler

I have always adored Lotta Jansdotter's work. She was up there with Orla Kiely as an inspiration during my college years and when she began writing modern sewing books, I was instantly hooked. Her Simple Sewing for Baby (which I'd LOVE to get my hands on in French or German or Japanese regardless of being monolingual) is full of sweet projects for babies and toddlers—but the one that caught my eye from the get-go was this swaddler pattern.

So, I don't know if the whole swaddling technique has been taught consistently throughout the years, but these days, when a mother is in the hospital with her newborn they are actually taught the technique and the nurses also explain why it is such a good way of calming the baby down. Now, not being a mother myself, it never really dawned on me that wrapping the baby snugly during the first few weeks especially would be calming to a child who is used to living in the tight quarters of her mother's womb. Watching an inconsolable baby being swaddled and then calming down nearly instantly is pretty amazing. I'm sure that this is totally common knowledge for all you moms out there . . .

I cut out this pattern ages ago . . . probably in January when I was home recovering. The only complaint I have is that the whole marking of the pleats for shaping and the placement for the velcro is a little difficult. I also tried using the 1" velcro the pattern calls for but it just didn't seem like it was going to hold a squirmy baby very well so I upgraded to this 2" industrial strength stuff. I wish I would have gone about an inch longer, too, so that the swaddler might get more use on a smaller baby.

The only other modifications I made to the pattern were to use regular cotton quilting weight on the inside and flannel on the outside—as opposed to the other way around which the pattern suggested—partly because I thought the flannel was so cute and partly because I sometimes think that flannel against the skin can be too hot, especially when it's not a particularly high quality, breathable flannel.

Like my lifelike little doll? He normally has a pacifier in his mouth. He was a splurge purchase when I was in high school and working for a small local toy store on Sunday afternoons. These sweet Lee Middleton dolls are very lifelike with weighted bodies and soft skin. I kind of forgot how much I used to love dolls. At last now I have a great baby model for projects like this.

This project took me far longer than it should have. I don't really know what my hangup about it was but aside from the marking of those pleats and velcro placement, it really was not a difficult project. Maybe I'll start another one right away and time myself from start to finish. I really don't think this needed to take me 3+ months. Do you? :)

Today I will package this fun little project up and send it off to a special mom for her baby girl. I kind of want to keep it . . . but maybe it'll make its way back to me someday.



I'm trying to stay inspired and creative after several months of being ultra busy but not very productive on personal projects after my surgery in December. The last few weeks have been great with little accomplishments along the way (even though some were spurred by obligation) and I am finally starting to feel like I'm getting back into my creative groove.

Finishing up little projects here and there has been good for me. I think I am in a bit of an immediate gratification mode right now so these little baprons and diaper straps and baby toys have helped get me on a roll . . .

And here's my sister's little munchkin (probably 12 days old here), Caleb, with the giraffe rattler/squeaker/tag toy I made for him. I forgot to take a shot before I brought it over to him the other day so it was a sweet surprise to get this photo text from my sister the other night. Such a sweetie (both my sister and Caleb)!

Oh, if you like any of these projects, here are links to patterns/tutorials:
Diaper Strap
Owl Rattle
Giraffe Rattle

Oh, and I did an exhaustive search at all of our local craft stores to find squeakers and rattle inserts for toys and came up empty handed. Rather than order a bunch from Amazon and pay shipping, I went to Walmart and bought a pack of cat rattles ($2 for 8 balls) and a couple of dog squeaker toys ($1 each). Worked great!


Essex Linen/Cotton Question

Top down: Essex linen/cotton blend in lime, aqua, carrot, and flax and Carolina Chambray in Black.

Do any of you regularly use the Essex linen/cotton blend fabrics? I just received my first pieces of them and was really pleased with the weight and drape as so many people have said I would be. Unfortunately, though, the flax color has a ton of slubs and snags. If you use the Essex fabrics, is this pretty normal? Take a look . . .

Oh, and just for good measure, I thought I'd share a picture of the lovely free fur that came with my Essex lime...

Betcha didn't know free fur was a perk of ordering from Fabric.com.


Getting Personal

One of the most rewarding experiences of blogging and being an active member of Flickr is that I have gotten to know some truly amazing and gifted people—my participation in do. Good Stitches {a charity bee} has been no exception. The women in the Faith circle of DGS are strong, beautiful, faithful, and extremely talented. I try to read their blogs and watch their Flickr photostreams to see what they are up to on a regular basis but, as with most of my blog reading lately, I've fallen behind.

That's why when the idea of encouraging community within each circle of the bee was floated to the hosts, I jumped on the chance to try to foster and develop more relationships within our little group. After gauging interest and garnering feedback about what we could do, we pretty collectively landed on the idea of a pouch swap.

My hope for this swap was that the 10 participating members would take an opportunity to really look at their partner's Flickr page, blog, and other information to try to get to know that person a little better which might make them feel more connected to the group—I really hoped some new friendships would flourish from this opportunity.

Personally, it was nice to get to read my partner's likes and see her favs, read her blog, and visit her Etsy shop to see what she is up to. I was paired with one of the newer members of our circle, Jennifer (Jennspen) and she gave me no lack of inspiration for her pouch! I truly hope she loves what I came up with for her.

After reading through her ISOs, I decided I wanted to create something that incorporated as many of them as possible. I landed on the idea of using the pezzy prints, scallops from Bonnie & Camille's Bliss, and then supplemented with some other color and white prints that coordinated.

I did a little bit of sketching (lovely sketch, right?) and trying to figure out the best way to create a pouch that could be thin and flat or expand to hold a skein or two of yarn and some knitting needles—one of Jennifer's requests. I really, really wanted to use a metal clasp for the closure but, alas, my order from Japan never showed up—I ordered nearly 6 weeks ago. So, after deciding on some colors, I decided to move on from the whole metal clasp idea and landed on the above sketch which was loosely based on the construction of a little Fossil makeup bag that I love to use.

Because I waited so long to start in hopes that my shipment from Japan would show up, I only had a few days to finish the pouch. I even took it to work with me to stitch on during my lunch hour—grateful I did, too, because I had some stressful work days that week and stitching really calmed my nerves!

In the end, I was pretty happy with how the whole thing turned out. I am pleased to say that it turned out just fine . . . and even more pleased to say that I didn't end up using any patterns to create this little pouch. It may not have the most perfect construction or the precision that I might have liked, but it fell together nicely and I hope that it will really get some good use by Jennifer!

It ended up being a nice opportunity to dig in and really get to know one of the DGS members better and encouraged me to spend more time getting to know the other ladies in the Faith circle. What a special process!