Textile Lovin’

Here’s a little update on what I’ve been working on lately….

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I’ve been digging through my fabric stash and creating pictures with them.

This farm scene was my first attempt.

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The clothesline with “quilts” was a last minute inspiration, but really my personal favorite part of this piece. I was going to do a garden at that spot, but couldn’t bring myself to actually sew it on there. It just wasn’t quite right.

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My second piece was this sweet little cottage scene. Little is not the correct word though—it is actually quite large, measuring over 16″ by 20″.

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Vintage yo-yos discovered at a yard sale make perfect flowers, especially with a sweet button sewn onto the middle.

My favorite part of this scene is the little fox curled up in his den at the corner. (Or you could call it a cat, it sorta looks like one!)

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Part of why I enjoy making these is using up such a variety of fabrics. It is a good excuse for my fabric hoarding I guess! I love finding just the right piece of fabric, ribbon, or trim for a certain area. Some are newer materials, but I use a LOT of vintage finds, which I really love!

My next attempt was based on a real place, not a made up one.

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For this one I loosely based it on a picture of the Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Maine.

A variety of corduroy and wool tans and browns create the rocks. If I had to redo this one I would make the sky a tad bit brighter blue.

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The last piece I finished represents the Bodie Island Lighthouse in North Carolina.

I don’t *love* this one as much, it’s just kind of okay for me.

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As each one has been rather large, I decided to scale down a bit. Pictured above is a piece I just started. Nothing is sewn on yet, just pinned down. Typically I pin a bunch of possibilities down and edit from there. Here I am recreating a scene from the Jordan pond area of Acadia National Park. I have a lot of work to do on it yet, but I wanted to show a bit of my creative process.

First I usually sketch out a rough idea, then begin to pull fabrics that may work. I strive to not only use color schemes that work, but to incorporate lots of texture too.

Not a single one ends up exactly like what I originally envisioned, and that’s okay…sometimes it turns out even better.

So there you have it, this is what I’ve been working at lately! This is fun for me and I so enjoy the creative process in this. This is how I unwind!

Vintage Sewing Wreath

Y’all should know that I love making wreaths.

Plus I also enjoy sewing AND yard sale shopping for cool vintage finds.

This wreath is a happy marriage of all those things put together!

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I took a wide burlap ribbon and threaded it onto a wire wreath frame.

(Please don’t ask me to do a tutorial on it, for me it’s just trial and error. Can’t say I make the greatest ones anyway…)

Then I added a touch of red burlap ribbon for a little color.

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Next came the fun part for me. I added things like old button cards, thimbles, and sewing charms from a clearance item at Michael’s.

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Also, some wooden spools of thread, both empty and full.

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Most of these things came from yard sale box lots, even the cool stand that I have this displayed on.

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I have no idea what this is officially called, but it is a ruler on a tripod stand with an arm that tilts forward with hem lengths displayed on it. It is perfect for setting my wreath on.

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This was a creative way to use up and display some of those vintage sewing notions I’d accumulated.

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All in all, this is different than any other wreath I’ve ever made, but I personally love it!

Spring 2014 in Pictures

Since I haven’t been on here all that much, I figured I’d give a little peek into what we’ve been up to these days. For the last few years the April to mid-June time is always heaped full of extra activities. It seems as if every field trip, campout, concert, and various other things are squeezed into that time when the weather is getting nicer and before school ends. Oh yeah, and our family has a boatload of spring birthdays tucked in there as well as Easter and Mother’s Day.

Here’s a mini-synopsis of just some things going on in our family this Spring:

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One of my many joys has been to lead a women’s Bible study at our church. I very much felt led to do a study on Nehemiah by Kelly Minter. It is a GREAT study that I would highly recommend! I could do a whole big blog post just on what I learned through this series.

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One week I finally decided to paint my kitchen this pretty blue. I had had the same light green for something like ten years and was ready for a change. I really love it. The antique embroidery is something I found in a thrift store within a broken frame. I placed it in a newer frame and it looks pretty good with the blue walls.

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To update my newly painted kitchen I sewed up a new valance and a set of burlap panels with red and white gingham accents and ruffles. This photo is when I was getting some final touches ready to sew on. You can see the pins if you look closely.

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This is a precious picture from one of my kids’ birthdays. I have the privilege of having my daughter’s birthday the day right after mine. It is fun to celebrate them together every year!

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Due to wacky weather, our garden planting was very late this year as opposed to other years. We didn’t even bother planting peas as it got too late.

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This drawing by Joseph absolutely kills me. For Mother’s Day the first graders had little booklets they made up about their Moms. My little boys wrote all kinds of sweet exaggerations about me, but this picture is the most honest portrayal of my life. He drew little heart people getting off the school bus and immediately asking their Mom, “what’s for supper?”

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My oldest has a new found love for archery, so we we set up a target shooting area in the backyard. He loves to practice shooting when he gets home from school, which is an hour earlier than my elementary kids.

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Let’s say a prayer that the screen top of this jar does NOT come off. If it does and these egg sacs decide to burst forth with 1,000’s of baby praying mantises, we are in deep trouble. These pods were all found last fall and kept in a jar in our garage all winter. We are waiting for them to hatch soon!

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Last but certainly not least, it is refreshing to see my green grass and flowerbeds filled with color once again. I have lots and lots of purple irises and they are finally blooming. It is beautiful.

Paper Heart Valentine Garland

On tap for today is a pretty paper garland, perfect for Valentine’s Day.

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These are pretty quick to whip up–all you need is an old book or hymnal, scissors, and a sewing machine.

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Cut out a bunch of hearts that are the same size. I used a few pieces of paper stacked together and was able to cut out quite a few in a short time.

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After cutting out gobs of these, all you have to do is sew two at a time together (as you can see, I used red thread) down the middle of the heart. Keep adding sets of two as you go. You an either make all of them flush against each other or stagger them out, leaving an inch or two of thread in between the sets of hearts. At this point I’ll also add that I made a nice length of thread at the beginning and end of each garland for hanging purposes.

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When finished, you can either let the hearts hang as is or fold each in half, creating a 3-dimensional look.

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After hanging this up and taking pics, I realized this would look MUCH better against a darker wall. Oh well. I also thought about combining this music paper with red cardstock and alternating them.

By the way, do ya like my chalkboard? This is hanging in our entryway and was a 5 cent yard sale steal. I usually have a verse written on it, but decided to do “LOVE” in a font that I liked. I looked some fonts up, saw how LOVE looked written in this particular one, then copied it freehand in pink chalk.

Cozy Hand Warmers

Anybody else have cold hands?

I’ve almost always had cold hands (and feet!) and I’m sure they’re about to get colder here soon.

The project I’m sharing today is perfect for using on a blustery cold day. That is, if you venture out at all in it. Here in PA the temps are dropping 50 degrees in the span of one day. It’s been a really crazy sort of winter for a lot of folks, and spring is still a long way off it seems.

Hopefully something like these can help to warm you up.

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Homemade hand warmers, perfect for tucking into pockets before heading out in the cold. Easy to make, and easier to heat up–just pop them in the microwave! Mine are made of a cozy flannel in this cute blue houndstooth print. These would be a good project for beginning sewers or someone who likes a quick little project.

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To make these, cut fabric into squares (mine are about 4″ by 4″). You will need 2 squares for each warmer.

With right sides together, sew or serge along 3 of the sides, leaving that 4th side open. It should now look like a pocket.

Flip that pocket right side OUT now, and fill 2/3 of the way full with rice (uncooked, of course;))

Tuck the raw edges in and hand-sew or carefully machine sew that last side closed, making sure you don’t lose that rice inside.

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That’s all. See? Quick and easy. I haven’t tried it yet, but these would be cute done in heart shapes–perhaps a Valentine gift?

As I mentioned previously, pop these babies in the microwave to heat them up and they should stay warm for awhile. I did make a large, rectangular version of these as a heating pad and it works great.

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Stay warm everyone!

Some Small Resolutions for 2014

I have never been one for making big New Year’s Resolutions.

Sure, I’ve had some here and there, and I would stick with them for awhile. However, I tend to think that by declaring some grand resolution that is far out of reach, it sets one up for failure.

I also tend to be the hardest on my own self if I fail at something.

Therefore, this year I just have a handful of small things that I would like to strive for. Some are serious and some may seem silly, but this is what comes to mind for me.

1. Learn at least one new skill. You’re never too old to learn something new! Some things I’ve taught myself in my thirties so far: how to sew, knit, crochet, blog, make good bread….I’d like to continue adding on to this list!

2. “Eat the frog.” If you’ve never heard this expression before, it comes from Mark Twain.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

He was expressing that you need to do something that seems difficult or that you’re intentionally putting off first, then do the things that are easier for you after that. I have a habit of procrastinating on the things I really am not looking forward to. Anyone else with me on that one?? Maybe this will be a kick in the pants to do those things first (basically, get it over with!) before tackling what I enjoy doing.

3. Make more things from scratch. Yeah, you may already think I’m a little over the top with this already. However, there’s a lot more things I could make on my own if I really tried.

4. Memorize 3 new passages from scripture. Someone really needs to light a fire under me on this one! I think scripture memorization is important and I am convinced that we need to have the Word of God written on our hearts and ready on our lips even more than ever. Our current times are SO stinking troubling that it about scares me. We Christians need to be ready to speak God’s Truth for all those times we feel Satan’s arrows being unleashed. Our kids need to learn this too.

5. Don’t wear sweatpants. Or yoga pants. I have this horrible habit, on days when I don’t have to go anywhere, of putting these on to exercise in and then remaining in them all day. Why oh why do they have to be so comfy?? I’m sure my better half would rather come home to me in something cute, or at least in something that looks like I’ve tried. (For the record, I’ve never gone out in public in pajama pants. Just so you know.)

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Also, for the record, this is not my husband. Just so you know.

6. Send more snail mail. Yes, you read that correctly. I used to be quite good at handwritten cards and notes of encouragement to people via the good ole’ postal service. Over the last few years I’ve slipped on this one, but I need to pick it back up. E-mails, Facebook postings, and texts just aren’t the same.

7. Drink more water and less coffee. Easier said than done.

Well, I realize that’s a pretty short list. I’m sure I will add on to it as the days of 2014 progress, but I think it’s a good little start.

Do you have any “small” resolutions that you want to tackle this year?

Lace Embellished Tee

I haven’t made any good projects involving clothing lately– at least none where I embellish upon something that’s already made. (I have made a few pieces from scratch lately, but that’s for another day.)

Upon seeing lots of cool lace inspired clothing lately, I decided to pretty up a basic long-sleeved T.

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It was really pretty darn simple once I got cracking on it.

Here’s the basics of what I did:

lace shirt, wheat crackers 001I started off with a basic knit t-shirt in this blue color. Since I’m a sucker for darker blue paired with white, I pulled out a Goodwill lace table runner thing that had been sitting in my fabric stash.

lace shirt, wheat crackers 002After literally slicing off the longer end pieces off the runner, I pinned them down the middle of my tee, placing the straight sides so they touch. I also left a tail of about 1-2″ at the top and bottom, tucking them underneath into the inside of the shirt. If you do this or something similar, use lots of pins! After making sure everything was in its proper place, I zig-zag stitched down the middle using white thread. This adhered both pieces to the middle portion. Following this I used a straight stitch down the side of each lace strip. I screwed up once and had to break out my trusty seam ripper to fix the situation. Another warning: knit material like this is sorta stretchy while the lace is not, so make you don’t have any bunchiness going on as you sew.

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That’s pretty much it. Now I have a new Tee to wear this fall and winter. The only thing I may change is the neckline–I don’t love how it looks just yet, so it may get fixed up a bit more, but I haven’t decided on how I want it.

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Paired up with my current favorite pair of earrings (which are a steal on amazon!), I really enjoyed wearing my new Tee to usher in some fall weather.

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Adding Length to a Dress

I was excited to find this pink knit cotton dress on the Kohl’s clearance rack for $2-something this winter.

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The first time I put it on this summer, it fit just right. Comfy, and most importantly, just the right length. My husband came home and admired it on me, calling me his Pinkalicious woman.

As you can probably see, it has the high-low type of hemline (higher in the front, longer in the back).

Well, after one washing, that hemline rose, I swear about several inches! I tried to wear it again, but thank God I didn’t go anywhere but out in our yard. At 5’10”, most dresses or skirts that look like a modest length on other women fit me about mid-thigh or so. Yep, I can rock the long stuff, but have to be super careful about how other things fall on me. So, after bending over to weed a flowerbed and feeling like I was overexposing myself, I went in the house and quickly changed. That’s when the idea to add a fabric band around the bottom came to me.

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Upon raiding my fabric stash, I settled on this pink and white striped cotton. I measured the circumference of the bottom hemline, then cut that much plus a bit extra, while making sure it was a few inches long as well. After cutting, I folded one long end in 1/4″, then another 1/4″ and pinned along the whole thing. One straight shot of sewing and the new bottom hem was complete!

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Once that was done, I measured what I had against the bottom hem of the dress. They had to line up exactly for this to work out!! I made one short seam along one side of the new fabric band to make it a circle. Then, pinning right sides carefully together, I sewed the new band onto the bottom of my dress.

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This method could be used on almost any basic skirt or dress. I even did something similar to a pair of knit cotton shorts that I had bought for my daughter. (I won’t even start on how improper some little girls’ clothing in stores is!! I couldn’t find one pair that were a decent length. A post on modesty may be in the works…)

My newly updated pink dress, blowing in the breeze.
My newly updated pink dress, blowing in the breeze.

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After doing this little alteration, I felt much more comfortable wearing my pink dress, and it is now a great length for me. Yippee!

Crochet-Edge Baby Quilt

This is a project that I had in the works a few weeks ago. My best friend was expecting her third child in May and I intended it as a baby gift. Since she didn’t find out the baby’s gender ahead of time, I wanted to make a baby blanket that was sort of gender neutral.

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Yes, I realize that it looks a bit more girly than boyish, so it’s a good thing that she had a little girl.

For the quilt squares, I used what was left from my living room curtain project. (They are Amy Butler’s “Lark” line of fabric–FYI)

I know this sounds kind of cheesy, but I used a dark blue fabric for the back that is similar to pajama jeans material. It actually is nice and super soft, so perfect for a baby!

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Instead of binding this like I would a typical baby quilt, I added a couple rows of blue crochet for something different. First I used the blanket stitch setting on my sewing machine, then wove this soft baby yarn through the perimeter. Using that, I did 2 rows of single crochet around the whole thing.

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I think it added a little unexpected touch, so I would definitely make another one with a crocheted border.

madelyn 009The best part of all? Delivering my gift to this beautiful baby girl and her mama. Oh, and seeing my own daughter snuggle and love on a precious newborn. (How can you not love holding a newborn? It’s like one of the best things ever!)