Thursday, December 29, 2011

WIP Wednesday--still working on Christmas here!

Yeap, that's right. I'm still working on Christmas gifts. My parents are driving here from Saskatchewan and that has given me a little bit of extra time to work on my Dad's and Sister-in-Law's gifts. Good thing too because my package of felt that I had ordered went MIA for a week and is the main material in my Dad's gift! But it did eventually arrive safe and sound.

Here is what I've been working on doing with it:

It's a little hard to see, but I think you can see the turtle I embroidered on the 1/8" thick felt with my sewing machine. I wish I had of had some of the thicker Aurifil threads that I just learned exist. Oh well, I'm really happy with how the turtle turned out and know my Dad will appreciate it. 

The lettering is much easier to see. I used my AccuQuilt Studio with my AccuCut alphabet dies and cut the same shape out of both the grey and the orange felt. I really like the look of the orange felt inserted where I've removed the grey felt. Next time though I'm going to go with a thinner felt, the grey became really difficult to cut. I did some random stitching over the letters to hold them in rather than trying to glue them like I originally had planned (the glue I was going to use isn't safe for me to use while breastfeeding). I tried to give it a watery, wavy feel. Not quite sure I achieved that, but I think it looks cool. It's time to sew the rest of the pieces together to finish off the laptop bag before they arrive tomorrow.

I was really surprised how easy the felt was to work with, even though it's so thick. The felt was ordered from a Canadian source, just a few kilometers from where we live ( Yay! I love buying from local suppliers, feels like I'm keeping jobs in my community.

 I had no issues with using my rotary cutter and one of my quilting rulers. I found it a lot easier to cut than I do quilting cottons. I can think of another project around a year ago where my husband probably would have been a lot happier if we had done that. Oh well, we have the knowledge to try the rotary cutter first now! 

And for that other Christmas project for my Sister-in-Law:

I think it's looking a lot better thanks to everyone's advice. I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying it. This style of snowmen really isn't my cup of tea, but I'm not totally hating the project. I'm really enjoying the process and seeing the simple line drawing come to life. There will be more hand embroidery projects in my future I think. If you're wondering why I set out to do something that I don't like, it's because my Sister-in-Law will love it. And by love it, I mean LOVE IT. 

I had a couple finishes this week. A pair of lounge pants made in interlock with a gambling print for my Uncle P. (Which my Mom loves because they say "hit me" on them.) I also finished my daughters Christmas stocking. Just in time too! I finished it the morning of the 25th before she woke up.

I can't wait to show you what I made for my Mom, but she actually reads my blog. So you'll have to wait to see it until after I give it to her.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It really is Christmas in the USA today

We don't watch a lot of TV around here, so I quite often don't hear about the news until it shows up in my husband's MacLeans. But this piece of super exciting news did make it's way into my bubble:

The Mercury and Air Toxics Rule Released by the EPA
You can read a brief little bit here:

Or watch President Obama here:

Maybe this is happening now because of the upcoming election and the pressure Obama has had from voters who helped put him in the office the first time around. However, cleaner air for Americans is a really, really good thing. I'm really thankful for them, that someone in power is stepping up and staying enough is enough. . . and not unselfishly wondering when we'll do the same thing here in Canada. But still, a big hooray for Americans! 

And a Merry Christmas to anyone celebrating this week. We are and today's the day to me!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I think I killed it! And not in a good way either

I've always had a lot of respect for anyone who does beautiful hand work. Now I have even more respect!

I really do think I killed it. . . so much for simply reading the instructions and following along. I was only doing a back stitch and it's such a small table-topper, I really didn't expect to have so many issues from the onset.

Do you see what happened to the thread? Yikes! Clearly I'm not doing something right.

Thanks to my Mom, I have an embroidery machine and digitizing software. I think it will be a lot less of a headache trying to complete this in time for Christmas if I just digitize it and do it on the machine. (I've already digitized half of it.)

But, I'm not giving up! I'm going to figure out how to do this by hand at some point, because I really do think it will look better done by hand. Any tips for me?

PS. I really is a lovely pattern! I ordered it from the Sew Sisters Quilt Shop (based out of Toronto).

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Play Dough :oD

I don't know if you were like me and liked to eat play dough as a kid or not. Oh how I loved to make things with my play dough! It was almost as good as playing at the water table. Because of my lovely habit of eating play dough, my mom used to make the play dough for my entire kindergarten class. I guess she realized it was a lot easier to make it from something that couldn't hurt me than have the constant battle of telling me not to eat it. 

I'm not sure at what age you start to introduce play dough, maybe at 18 months? 2 years? Gosh, I have absolutely no clue! Anyway, I'm ready for when the time comes, whenever that may be. Forget the over priced store bought kind made with nasty chemicals, I have the recipe [insert evil laugh here]. And, I'm going to share it with you. [okay so maybe the evil laugh doesn't fit after all]

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup salt
2 tablespoons alum or cream of tarter

2 tablespoons of oil
2 cups boiling water
Your choice of colourant--food colouring, jello powder, or kool-aid.
(Some people add 1 tsp of cinnamon)

1) Mix your dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2) Mix your wet ingredients together and then pour into the dry ingredients bowl.
3) Stir until you can't, then knead until smooth.

Store in an air tight container, ziplock bags work great.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is it stealing?

I really want to do some really cool FMQ on my Asian Bargello. I'm picturing two really cool koi fish circling around each other. Now, I'm not particularly skilled in terms of drawing. What I see in my head doesn't come out on paper. To compensate for this, I've mostly stuck to abstract art in the past (my perfectionism doesn't get in the way there). So I "borrowed" an image from a google images search to use as a starting point. I've edited the photo I "borrowed" a little, but not significantly. However, I'm also sure that it will look different once I've stitched it in to the quilt.

But is it stealling? I'm not selling this quilt or profiting from it in any way. I just really appreciated the quality fish Koyosan drew and wanted to use that as a launching point for my creative indevors.

This is Koyosan's awesome fish:
This is how I've changed it somewhat to use as a guideline while I'm FMQ:

Picture the above as the primary the quilting on this quilt:

I'll have to add some other background quilting to cover the needs of the batting. I'm cosidering different wave options, but don't want to detract from the fish.

But, I'm on the fence. I can't decide if I'm abusing my googling and CorelDraw (yes, I prefer to use Corel products for graphic manipulation) skills and plagerizing (or whatever the artist equivilant of that is) Koyosan. Or if I'm just being inspired by the excellent work Koyasan has done. I'd like to consider it a spark, but I'm not sure if I'm just making excuses.

Anyway, check out what everyone else is working on here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I can't tell if I'm in a turkey coma (we decided to pretend we were American on the weekend and had a thanksgiving dinner with some loved ones we missed the first time around), or if maybe I'm tired because my daughter has 7 swollen gums and is little miss cranky pants today. Who can blame her? If I had 7 swollen gums (5 of which are back teeth), I'd be a little miss cranky pants too!

But on the bright side, I've been sewing a little when I'm able. My husband is really great and understands my need to do something creative for at least a few minutes every day for some sanity. I've made great progress on my Mom's, my sister's, and my in-law's Christmas gifts. Now if my Dad would stay away from his laptop long enough for my Mom to take measurements, I'd be a little closer to having more than half the Christmas gifts I'm making this year well on their way to completion.

I have a finish, albeit a really simple one. It is one of the bags we'll be using to 'wrap' Christmas gifts this year, rather than dealing with wrapping paper and tape. A) It's great for the environment; and B) It's great for the lazy mother that tires easily of wrapping gifts (a.k.a., ME). And who doesn't love that little robin holding on to a letter for Santa with a little bit of gold sparkle to it?

Next, I was just messing around with some HSTs. I needed to add a HST listing to AccurateCuts' etsy store and needed pictures to do so. I ended up piecing the HSTs just because I could and knew I wouldn't have to trim them to square them up after. :o) 

Not quite sure what I'll make out of the square though. I don't have more of the fabric, the rest is being used in my TSX quilt that is sitting in a pile in a deep dark corner of my sewing nook not to be resurected until maybe February, or more realisticly April.

Anyone out there making charity quilts that could use a 12 1/2" square (as pictured above) for a charity quilt? I'd be happy to donate it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday -- Stroller Blanket

If I had to describe sewing in one word, I would chose "empowering".

When I am using something and I don't like how it functions, or I can't find what I want in a fabric I like, I know I can make it. That is an amazing feeling for me.

This week's post is a prime example of that. I am tired of picking the blanket from the stroller off of the ground. It doesn't matter what ingenious way I try to wrap it around her legs, it will come off. She doesn't seem to care that I've wrapped it around her legs to keep her warm. It's like she thinks it's the "let's pull every book off the shelf" game. Fun for her, not so much for mom.

So, I'm in the process of making a warm sac for strollering. We walk just about everywhere, and this just seems like something I can't live without. Why I can't buy this in stores I don't understand. But it is okay, because I'll just make it if you don't want to sell it to me you baby product marketers out there.  :oP

So without further ado, here's my stroller sac (so far)!

I've used a really soft and cuddly flannel on both the inside and the outside with two layers of my go-to batting (Warm and Natural). I had some fun with my new sewing machine and played around with my choice of stitches on the quilting.

 And to make sure I don't infringe on the safety features of the stroller, I added an extra large buttonhole on the back to allow the safety strap to go through.

I still have to finish off the top and I'm thinking of putting in some short ties with snaps to connect to the stroller. Haven't quite decide if I want to use a piece of matching solid for that or if I'll just continue with the same fabric.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Let the Counting Begin! Number Squares

A disclaimer to start:
This is not my original idea. I was inspired by a project I saw in my copy of Growing Up Sew Liberated: Making Handmade Clothes + Projects for Your Creative Child by Meg McElwee. (A book I highly recommend for anyone looking for ideas of things to make for little people.) I loved her idea of making a set of fabric numbers to play with, but wanted to play with the idea a little and make it a bit more my own.

I decided to make "chenille" squares. As they get washed and dried they will look more and more chenille-y. 

Each number I've done so far, has a different chenille effect. I've been trying different things with them to see what I think is the best effect for future gifts for people.

These numbers are great for a variety of different games you can play with the little people in your life.

My daughter is so young, we're just going to focus on naming the numbers for now. But when she is older, we can start having her hide the number I say, do something associated with the number (i.e., jump six times, find two pennies, etc.), place the right amount of buttons under the number, etc. Oh, I shouldn't forget to mention, once your child has mastered 1 through 9, you can add the number 0 and start working on ten's and larger numbers. 

These are sooooo easy to do. You can use whatever materials you have on hand, but I stuck with quilting weight cotton for the square itself and a knit for the numbers. Because I wanted a chenille look on the squares, I wanted a woven fabric, but something that wouldn't be too loose of a weave. And for the numbers, I wanted nice clean edges that wouldn't fray, so I used some turquoise swimsuit fabric I had in my stash.

Now, when it came to the cutting part, I cheated. I have an AccuQuilt Studio and I used it to cut charms for the squares and all the numbers. Go ahead and cut your own squares and numbers. Or for those who don't enjoy the cutting part, you could purchase a kit here.

Step One: 
Glue your number on to your stack of squares using a glue stick and stitch around that number through all the layers. 

Step Two: 
Mark the lines where you want your stitching to go, and stitch along those lines. 

I use a hard wooden tool to do this when using quilting cotton. I like that I don't have to worry about if the pen, chalk, or whatever isn't going to wash out.
I "jumped" over the numbers themselves.

Step Three: 
Trim your loose threads and cut your fabric. It is important to not cut the bottom layer, because that's the layer that is holding everything together.

Other things I learned along the way:

a) If your rows of stitches are further apart, it is easier to get the scissors in and cut.

b) You get a better chenille-y look if you cut with the grain, but you get a lot less threads to trim if you stitch and cut along the bias. 

c) It's a lot easier to stitch around the numbers if you can see what you are doing! It is possible to do this with a regular foot. I did. It just means you're lifting the foot a lot to see where you are. Can't wait until I have a clear applique foot!

Guess this counts as my WIP for this week, since I still have 5 through 9 and 0 to do. 
Check out what Lee and everyone else are working on here:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday--A completion? Maybe not

I'm really, really happy that I decided to go with the prairie points on this pillow for my niece, I think they are really cute and set off the 3D pinwheels nicely. 

With my AccuQuilt Studio I was able to cut out the triangles needed for HSTs, but I sewed them on their two short seams to make my prairie points. Not your typical method, but the results are really nice looking. That is until you get to sewing the layers of fabric around the edges of this pillow. . . 
Don't mind my daughter's bum in the bottom left corner. I was going to just crop her out,
but the smiling jack-o-lantern makes me smile, so I decided to leave it.

I have a little issue on one of my corners. Do I tear it all out and fight with my machine over the multiple layers again? (I don't get my new machine until the end of November) Do I tear it out and wait for the new machine which does a better job on multiple layers to fix it? Or, do I accept that it's not perfect and my niece is young enough that she's going to love it even with a botched corner? I do have a lot of other Christmas sewing to get on with and can't hold everything off for the better machine. . .

I have soooo much more I want to share with you all, but alas it is mostly secret Christmas sewing going on right now. I wouldn't want people to see what they are getting in advance on here so you are missing out for the time being. 

Monday, October 24, 2011


Face Paint Label Reads, “Not to be used on children under 12." Yet the packaging is covered with images of young children.

Seriously marketers, you should be ashamed to plaster your product with misleading pictures hoping that the parents who are purchasing the product are just too busy to read the small print. 

Source: Environmental Defence
More info in this article titled The Scariest Thing You'll See This Halloween (complete with a couple recipes for homemade alternatives:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Make your own alphabet magnets!

If you want to skip the rant head down to the pictures for the tutorial.

Call me crazy, but I'm always leery about what nasty chemicals are lurking in the toys at the dollar store. (Maybe because I keep finding lead in the necklaces that can be purchased there? They are meant for children; I just don't understand it.) Don't get me wrong, I [heart] dollar stores for many, many things. Just not really cheap children's toys, because they are cheap for a reason.

I went on a search to find my daughter alphabet magnets that I'm okay with her playing with (sticking in her mouth, etc.). I found not one single option that met my standards.

A) I wanted both uppercase and lowercase letters--call me crazy, but if your child is only seeing this as an E, they may have an issue understanding that both "E" and "e" are the same letter and it will likely take them longer to learn how to read; and

B) I didn't want it to be plastic.

My solution, make my own. And it's super easy, so I thought I'd share how I did it with you too.

I used acrylic felt to cut both the 1.5" letters and the 2.5" squares (104 squares to be exact). you could use a different fabric, I just found the felt to be pretty forgiving and really easy to work with. I used a basic stitch to secure one letter to one piece of felt.

I also want to mention, I cheated on cutting out the letters which is probably one of the major factors to thinking this was such and easy thing to do. I have an AccuQuilt Studio cutter and two alphabet sets (uppercase and lowercase). You could print the alphabet out on paper and use that to cut it out if you don't mind spending the time. Or, if you are willing to wait for the post, we could do the cutting for you. Our etsy shop has the entire lower and uppercase alphabet available at a very affordable price here.

I then grabbed a back piece and lined it up, right sides facing out, and stitched around three of the sides.

I then slide a magnet into the pocket I'd just created.

And then stitch the last side closed and you are done.

If you end up making some of these for a special little person in your life, I'd love to see what you've done! Leave a comment or send me a note.

I'm off to finish the other forty some odd letters I need to stitch on to the squares!

Don't forget to check out what other people are working on at Lee's WIP Wednesday:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

TSX Quilt

Do you remember this quilt?

I have a few blocks done. But, it kind of got pushed off to the side as I work on finishing a few other things. Because the quilt for yourself always does, doesn't it? But that doesn't mean I've stopped thinking about it. 

I was perusing Leah Day's Flicker photos last night and this one caught my eye:

She calls it radio static, but it reminds me of equities on the stock market with all those peeks and valleys. I think this may be how I have to quilt this quilt. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

WIP Wednesday--it's all about stockings

What have I been working on this week? Stockings, stockings, and more stockings.

Don't you think this one will be cute when finished?

 With this as the cuff?

Have you heard about Stockings for Kids? Purple Panda Quilts is running a stocking drive for foster children. Check out her blog here for more info. 

I love, love, LOVE the program they have for babies at our library. It's called "Shake, Rattle, and Roll." That 30 to 45 minutes is enough to wear my daughter out really well and she becomes such a great napper! Today I took advantage of her 1 1/2 hour long nap and cut out all of these letters for our Etsy store. I still need to work on my photography skills, but I'm glad I was able to get them cut out today.

Whoops! Looks like I flipped one by mistake. Funny that I'm just noticing it now.
Ah well, I can fix it tomorrow when it is light out again. What other fabrics do you think would make cute stockings? I'm thinking maybe flannel Brown Bear stockings would be cute too.

Check out what everyone else is working on here: and

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Finally! A PVC free stroller cover

Thank you to the makers of Jolly Jumper for finally coming to their senses and making a breathable waterproof stroller cover out of nylon rather than PVC. I was super excited when I found this today. 

Granted, there are likely a few chemicals lurking in there that I'm not a huge fan of, but at least I'm not expected to wrap my child in nasty vinyl to protect her from the rain. Nylon is a huge step up from PVC. Heck, this product could likely even be sold in California without this warning:

"WARNING: This product may contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."

It also offers UVA and UVB protection. Definitely an improvement to the only options I was able to find in the spring made of clear vinyl. Although, I still wish we had purchased a baby planet stroller (link to company page here). Any strollers from the Tim and Leslie line comes with a PVC-free stroller cover.

I didn't find out about them until after we purchased our stroller. It would be awesome to have a stroller that's a little bit more compact in our car, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. It's a good reminder every time I go to purchase something to REALLY make sure it isn't going to be something I'll regret later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Somewhere safe

Okay, I've done it again! And I'm really not sure how I managed to do it this time. I just moved and reorganized my sewing space, I should have found the already fused and cut out letters for the Brown Bear quilt in the process. My husband helped me look too. Akk where can they be!

Of course I'm searching desperately for them because we're planning on seeing the recipients of the quilt on Saturday and I really need to get the letters appliqued on, the quilt sandwiched and quilted, and then a binding sewn on! Crap I forgot about the binding, I will need more than two hours for this one. Come on letters, I really need to find you. I don't want to cut all the words out again!

Where oh where did I figure was a really safe spot to put them so I wouldn't lose them?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Can you admit it? "I don't like to clean, but I love a clean house."

I was reading a post on The Path to Frugality and saw the line, "I don't like to clean but I love a clean house." That truly spoke to me. It's the truth around here!

Martha also says:

A better use of your time would be to sit down with a tablet of paper and ask yourself these questions.
a.  How much time do you have to spend on cleaning?
b.  Are you a “clean a little bit at a time each day person” or are you a “deep clean once a week kind of person.” 
c.  Can you delegate some of the tasks to other family members and do you want to do that OR would you prefer to do it yourself to your standards?
From these questions I could see what was realistic for me and what was unrealistic for me.  My goal was to have an uncluttered home and relatively clean home that I could maintain. Yes, that is right, that I could maintain and what was realistic for me.
Spending some time writing down a plan that was tailored to my personality and my needs was the best use of my time. 
Hmmm. A plan. There's an idea. What I currently do is just randomly clean things as I realize, "Oh no, Munchkin might get into that." Since she's started crawling, vacuuming has become a regular activity. As well as cleaning surfaces in her reach and laundry. But I have to admit, things like cleaning windows, the freezer, etc. have all fallen to the wayside after I got pregnant. Maybe having a wash a couple window days isn't such a bad plan? After all, we can all spare at least 10 minutes a day can't we? I'm sure it will probably help with my husbands and my sanity after all. Maybe sewing for sanity isn't the only solution. . . 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Exciting Weekend!

Yeap, it's that time again. Mom-2-Mom sale today. I love all the thrifty goodness. Kids grow so fast they tend to not wear out their clothing, so why not get some of what other kids have grown out of? I've been really lucky in the past and found some awesome outfits for my little one for super cheap! That puts a smile on my face (and my husband's too!) 

Adding to the weekend goodness, we have a small road trip planned. We're off for an overnight visit with Aunt Brenda and Uncle Paul (YAY), and then heading over to the fair in the morning. We might even get there in time for the lawn mower races! I see pulled taffy and a mini quilt show in my future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday, a quilt show, and my new love--the Horizon 7700

Guess what? I can free-motion quilt! And not only can I do it, but I'm actually pretty good. Now this might sound like bragging, and it probably is, but. . . I've been really, really intimidated about trying to do this. And yet at the same time, I've been annoyed with myself for not trying outside of one REALLY BAD try on my current machine. I'm been feeling like my creativity has been limited. I have all these great ideas about quilting for my quilts, and I want to be the one to do it. Anyway, back to the point. . . 

Friday, my husband took the day off work and after taking care of some administrative things, the rest of the day was a Tammy day. After lunch at Ikea, we headed to Triangle Sewing Centre in Guelph and I tested out the Janome Horizon 7700. Wowzer, this machine is not only beautiful, but is very talented and intelligent too! Sorry honey, I think I'm in love.  :oP  Just check out these stitches!

I definitely put the machine through it's paces. I brought some difficult fabrics with me. One of which was a really gauzy and stretchy knit fabric and I didn't bring any stabilizer. On the first pass it wasn't too happy, but with a couple adjustments on settings and with a different foot (that comes standard with the machine) it totally did it (happily too) and with only two layers of fabric! I tried out a couple pieces of the four-way stretch fabric I made a couple infinity dresses out of this summer on auto tension and there was zero waving of the fabric. And to boot, the machine has a stitch for stretch fabrics that is very close to a straight stitch, but has the stretch and strength of a zig-zag. I knew I'd be happier sewing on a machine where I would have things like the ability to change the stitch width and length, needle down, a bigger harp, and the ability to use a walking foot. But WOW, WOW, WOW. It was hard walking out of the store without the machine, but alas I must complete my comparison shopping and save a bit more money first.

But that wasn't it for Friday. . . we just had enough time to pop over to the next city and see the Grand National Quilt Show 2011. The pictures on the site don't do the quilts justice. They were truly works of art. I wish I had of had more than 30 minutes to view them, but I am just happy I had a chance to go. Definitely I plan on returning to see next year's show. I really enjoyed seeing Anna Hergert's piece called Global Warming - Benefit or Peril. I loved how the quilt could be adjusted and have a totally different look.
Image belongs to Anna Hergert

Image belongs to Anna Hergert

Now it's time to talk about what I'm working on. I haven't accomplished a ton of sewing, but I did get some 3D pin wheels pieced. I'm making a pillow cover for my niece, now I just have to put the back on.

I started out with some more of the HSTs my Mom gave me and sewed them together to make the tradition square you'd start with for 3D pin wheels. 

I then needed to square them up, so I cheated and used my AccuQuilt Studio and a 3 1/2" strip die to square them.

They just look so much nicer after they get the nice clean "I've just been cut" edges.

From there, I cut out some charm squares in Kona Turquoise and pieced them together.

I've also started to piece a stacked coin quilt in red and white with some lovely fat quarters I got back in April. I had a few minutes this morning and managed to get all the strips cut before my daughter woke up. I love it when she sleeps in until 9am! I didn't get a chance to grab any photos though. Next week.

I'm also planning on finishing the Brown Bear quilt I started a while ago. It won't be long until that baby makes it's way into the world. I better get cracking. Now where did I put those letters I've already cut that need to be appliqued. Hmmmm....

Check out what everyone else is working on here:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced