Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Trauma

Christmas 1995

As I'm busy finishing up Christmas presents (I'm down to the wire, I know), I thought I'd let you know about a contest. Paula Prass, designer extraordinaire, is hosting a giveaway on her blog open to anyone who sends her a funny photo of kids NOT having fun while getting their picture taken with Santa. Check it out, the photos are sure to make you laugh, and while you're there, vote for your favorite. Here's my submission:

I can remember things from when I was really young. Like going to see Santa. He lived in an A-frame shack that was put up in the town square next to the fountain. With my dad carrying me, we opened the door, stepped in, got within three feet of the big jolly guy, and I started screaming and climbing up and over my dad's shoulders and on top of his head. I know I was really young because he still had hair then. Come to think of it, I could be the reason he went bald... Anyway, I was apparently headed for the rafters and was going to swing my way outta there like a monkey. There are no pictures of me with Santa. Go figure. What does it mean that I'm now 50 years old and still traumatized by the event? Worse, what does it mean that I endangered my own children's mental health by putting them on Santa's lap for a photo shoot? Therapy? Yea, I'm thinking about it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dear Blog,

Really, I haven't forgotten you. I know I owe you a huge post filled with pretty pics of all I've been up to lately, but right now I'm in the rush of Christmas presents to finish making. There's linen to stitch up, yarn to crochet, packages to wrap, cookies to bake, it's all so busy. But it makes me happy! Here's a photo of the view I enjoyed during my recent quilt retreat with my friends. Maybe it'll help you ponder great thoughts on your own while I finish up my to-do list. I promise to get back to you. Promise.
Love, Amy

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tiny Goodness

I had a hankerin' to try my hand at making a bag with a metal purse frame. Above is my first effort. I dug around online and found some tiny frames on the cheap at eBay. They're so tiny that a credit card won't fit in one, but I made the bag long enough to accommodate a tube of chapstick and some rolled up dollar bills. It now resides on my keychain. To create a pattern, I used the instructions I found on the U-Handbag blog here. The glue I used to attach the fabric to the frame was Craft by Goop (I bought mine in the craft dept. of Walmart). It did the job, the fabric stuck tight, but it was a little stiff and hard to distribute evenly in the metal frame channel. U-Handbag suggests using Gutermann fabric glue, but I can't seem to find any. If anyone knows of a source, share your info!

Denyse Schmidt Quilts Book Review

Lately I've been digging into the book Denyse Schmidt Quilts, and loving it. When I bought it, I read it cover to cover. Actually, I bought it right after I had seen the movie "Julie and Julia" and I wondered if I should make every project in Denyse's book the way Julie in the movie made every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook. The reality of how much time that would take eventually dawned on me, so I abandoned that idea, but I have made a couple projects from the book.

At first, I expected the book to give me some insight into Denyse's creative process and explain how to improvise patchwork projects the way she does, but it's actually a book of projects with pattern pieces that when sewn together, look like you've improvised a free-form patchwork piece. Being such a newbie to quilts and patchwork, this method is probably a good thing for me. It's like someone holding my hand while I get use to the construction methods. Her ideas are cute, modern and very doable.

Her scarf pattern uses a foundation piecing method. The strips of wool and silk are successfully sewn to a muslin foundation fabric until you have the right dimensions, then square it up and stitch it a soft wool lining. It was quick and I love the look. Our weather has turned cold the last few days, so it was done just in time to be put to use!

I made this fun apron for a housewarming present for my niece. She loves vintage things and all the fabrics I used came from a pile of old fabrics I bought at a garage sale last summer. It's a very easy pattern with a wonky log cabin block pocket. I'd love to make an entire log cabin quilt some day. But in the meantime, these small projects are fast and satisfying. The pom pom fringe is a fun sassy addition. I also whipped up a couple pot holders to match using my own design. The thing I like about these is the pocket on one side. With my hand inside the pocket, I feel like a have more control when grabbing something out of the oven.

Thank You, Detail!

I actually won a giveaway! A. at her Detail blog sent me this wonderful cloth basket filled with scrap fabrics. Lovely little pieces that I'll soon be showing off in a project I'm working on now. Isn't the ribbon detail on the top of the basket clever? I love it. Thanks, A.!

Trying to Catch Up

Wow. Blogging has been left in the dust while I've been trying to catch up on some "chore" projects around here. Pretty straightforward stuff. Here's a rundown:

I finally finished a shower curtain for my hall bath, using Flights of Fancy fabric by Paula Prass. On the wall, I covered four art canvas frames with a coordinating Flights of Fancy print. Simple, quick, done!

My college age son moved out in September, but it took me till October to clean out his room. Yeah, it was THAT bad. Really. Anywho, the room is now a study room for whoever needs it. This antique chair belonged to my dad, and although I wanted to use it, I also wanted to protect the wood seat and the leather back. I covered it in a paisley print that matched the wall color, and also made very simple matching valances with the leftover fabric.

Now that I'm a little more caught up, it's time to think about Christmas presents...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Inspiration Overload

I found this book on Amazon Marketplace recently and had to scoop it up. A copy of this same book was on our bookshelf when I was growing up. Actually, it wasn't on our bookshelf, it was always in somebody's hands, either mine or one of my sister's. A sister now has that copy, with a missing back cover and loose spine, but it's still readable and well loved. Every page of that book is like an old friend, comfortable and familiar.

That book, along with a couple of Pack-O-Fun magazines, were all we had for crafty inspiration. But it was enough. I believe I've made, attempted to make, or dreamed about making every single project in this book. See the stocking pattern above? My mom used that pattern when she made my stocking, which still hangs on my mantel every year, along with the stockings I made for my husband and kids.  There's a rag doll pattern in the book that my older sister made for me. It's the first doll I remember having, and the doll I hand stitched clothes for when I was a preschooler. That book taught me how to knit, how to carve soap, how to sew, how to create.

Contrast those sweet memories with today. I have a bookshelf full of crafty books, a basket full of sewing magazines, an endless list of blogs I love to visit, and just about any idea I want to explore is only a Google search away. I'll never accomplish a fraction of the projects that swim around in my head from all this inspiration. Everywhere you can hear talk of the "information overload" age we live in. Sometimes I think we can also be burdened with "inspiration overload" as well.

Don't get me wrong. I love having books at my fingertips and being inspired by all those creative ladies that let us glimpse into their lives through their blogs. I love the resurgence of creativity and sewing I've seen developing in our country. It's just that sometimes I find I need to take a creative step backwards, simplify my thinking process, and remember to enjoy the simple things in front of me. Enjoy putting needle to fabric for the sheer pleasure of it, enjoy the sound of knitting needles clacking together in a rhythmic pattern, enjoy a completed project being put to good use. Sometimes I need to stop trying to be a more inspired, creative, unique craftsperson, and simply find joy in the person I am right now.

 So, to all of you, have a relaxed, simply enjoyable weekend!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why I Love Colorado

Wednesday, Thursday: Lots of snow.
Friday: Digging out.
Saturday, Sunday: Bright sunshine, warm weather, no jacket required (just avoid puddles of melted snow). You gotta love how Colorado does its thing, then gets over it and moves on.
Monday: Back to business as usual.

I'd like to have a gallery of beautiful finished projects here that I accomplished during the snow storm, but it was more like a must-get-mundane-chores-off-my-list kind of snow storm. Things like:

1. Finish cleaning out my son's bedroom. He moved out in September. There will be no "before" photos of that room. Way too embarrassing. I could take a photo of the big black garbage bags of stuff I hauled out of there, but where's the fun in that? There will be a few photos later of that room as I complete some very minimal decorating projects in there to turn it into a quiet study room.

2. Baked apple dumplings with my daughter. Whole peeled apples wrapped in pie crust pastry and baked. Yea, I should have taken a photo of those beauties with their leaf cutout tops, but when they came out of the oven, all I could think was must. eat. NOW. We're making those again.

3. Mended more rips in my jeans. Four more rips to be exact. I have an awful time finding jeans that fit, so I hang on to the pairs I have till there is just nothing left of them. And no, I'm not photographing the behind of my jeans. We're not going there. Ever.

4. Worked on a shower curtain out of Paula Prass fabric. Photo as soon as I get curtain rings to hang them up.

5. Started some Quiet Room projects. More on that later. Nothing too exciting, though.

6. Watched movies, ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate with marshmallows, read the new Stitch magazine (l-o-v-e i-t), slept in late.

Now it's back to reality. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Snow Day #3: The Big Meltdown

The sun is back! Hope you all get to stitch this weekend!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Day #2

It started snowing here on Tuesday night and hasn't stopped yet. We have 19" so far. This is my daughter's second snow day in a row and she's like a little kid, building snow forts in the backyard. Me? I'm dreaming of getting back down to the sewing room to finish some projects, so I'll make this quick and just show off a couple pictures from my back yard.

The above is the view out my back door. For some reason when I peeked outside this morning, it made me smile to see that row of little bright pots braving the cold and sheltering themselves under the bench while the rest of the landscape had turned white. I like being happy!

Have a warm day, everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scrappy Belt

Sew Mama Sew is hosting a Scrap Buster Contest this month. They have had lots of great ideas submitted, please head over and check it out. I wanted to come up with an idea that would use up small, not-necessarily-quilting fabrics, so here's my tutorial to make a simple patchwork style belt out of any kind of fabrics you have on hand. Here's a link to my Scrapbuster Belt. It's my first tutorial, so please email me with any comments, suggestions, corrections. I'd appreciate it! Thanks!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fabric Giveaway

Hey, mosey on over to the True Up blog for a great giveaway of a half-yard bundle pack of Liyohara fabric. Beautiful prints! And if you haven't visited True Up before, you'll enjoy getting lots of fabric news and tons of inspiration. Check it out!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Oatmeal muffins with dried cherries and dark chocolate chunks.

We've had our first snow of the season! The cooler weather makes me crave time in the kitchen to bake. I don't know why that is, but what I do know is I'm going to have a hard time fitting into my jeans tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


My nose is cold.
My front yard is carpeted in yellow.
My back yard is sporting more than the usual red.
I turned my sprinklers off for the year.
I have a cup of hot chocolate on my desk.
I'm going to a football game this weekend.
I'm enjoying the moments of the season.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Seasonal Changes

Last week my daughter and I created our own little retreat in the mountains. As we arrived at our condo, the weather changed, snow fell to dust the peaks, and the air took on that special autumn crispness. By the way, no, the mountain's not on fire, it's just a Colorado sunset.

We watched movies, shopped, sewed, hiked, and slept late. It was wonderful.

Back home, the changing of the seasons makes we want to get in the kitchen again. I think it's the chance to cook up things I haven't cooked in awhile. To me, fall is the time to bake, make soup, and cuddle in with all those comfort foods. In honor of fall, I made up some mixes this weekend that help me with the baking and cuddling. For info. on where the recipes came from, see this post. From left to right, hot chocolate mix, oatmeal mix, cookie mix, granola, and biscuit mix.

From my spot at the computer, I can see the maple tree out my back door is turning red today. I think I'll go walk the dog now and get some more autumn inspiration. Enjoy your week, everyone!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Men's Dress Shirt Re-Do

Here's my first attempt at re-fashioning a men's dress shirt. There's so many examples on the web that inspired me, that I had to try it. In the end, I like it, but it did take me a little longer to do than I had hoped. That's probably because it wasn't that much bigger than my normal size, so I had to sew in some triangular pieces of fabric under the armholes to make the armholes small enough. Then I re-shaped the top of the cut off sleeves to give a more feminine gathered cap, cut straight across the bottom for the hem, and added bias tape inside to give me an elastic empire waist. If you try an elastic waist, make sure you add it directly in line with a button, so the elastic doesn't pull a gap in the front button band. I was quite pleased with myself for figuring this out BEFORE I had to rip and re-stitch! Sometimes I amaze myself.

And in the true spirit of recycling, I made the leftover cut-off sleeve parts into dog toys. I stuffed them with orphaned socks and stitched up the ends. Although they weren't pretty enough to take a photo of, my puppy didn't seem to mind that. She's busy chewing one of them right now.

On My URGENT To-Do List

I ask you: who would NOT want this on their to-do list? Find the recipe, along with tons (referring to the number of ideas, not the weight you would gain by trying them all...) of other tempting ideas at Bakerella's incredible blog:…-oh-my/

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Burger Weekend

It probably started because I watched Bobby Flay make burgers on the Food Network. That, and the fact I have 25 pounds of hamburger waiting expectantly in my freezer. It was on sale. A really good sale. So Saturday I made bacon cheddar hickory smoked burgers topped with coleslaw.  Sunday I made Italian burgers topped with mozzarella, spinach, and caramelized onions. They were grab-your-napkins good!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Love/Hate Relationship

I have this special relationship with my iron. I love it when I use it in sewing construction. I love opening up a fresh seam and pressing it flat, and shaping a dart into a nice rounded curve. I'm a master at getting the iron point to fold over the tiniest strip of fabric into a narrow hem. Then when the project is done, I lovingly give it one more final pressing.

But once I am done, I send the item off to live a life of it's own, like a bunny mother sending her children into the wide, wide world, never to return. I'll try hard to never use the iron on them again. I hate maintenance ironing. I'm not a fan of any laundry task, and least of all ironing. I have a closet full of wrinkly clothes to prove it! Why is it that it's fun when I'm creating, and evil drudgery when I need to simply get the clothes back into wearable condition? Oh iron, iron, why art thou so fickle?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mixing It Up

I haven't been able to get down to my sewing machine lately due to one child packing to move out, another child's cross country schedule, and my day job getting busier, but I did have enough time last night to make up a batch of homemade biscuit mix while dinner was cooking. The recipe comes from my very worn copy of Make-a-Mix Cookery by Karine Eliason, Nevada Harward and Madeline Westover. I've had this book since my college days, and I'm sure it's the only cookbook I own that I can say I've made almost every recipe in the book. Honest. It satisfies my "make it myself" mentality, I guess. After making the mix, I was inspired to use it to put together some peach cobbler. Ya gotta love peaches while they're in season.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September Peaches

Peach pie filling ready to be tucked away in the freezer. Somewhere in the deep depths of winter it will be brought out to remind me of the fresh taste of September. Yum.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fall is Coming

While taking a walk this weekend, I witnessed one of those late summer storm clouds gathering in the evening dusk. It's a reminder that Autumn can't be far behind.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Week

Here's a small run down of a week that went by way too quickly, as they all do!

My daughter studying for a test went from earnest contemplation to...

this, to...


Sophie being, well, Sophie.

Cookies I baked for a Cross Country team dinner. The snickerdoodle recipe came from my old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, and the chocolate chip cookie recipe is a family hand-me-down. I love the connection I feel to family as I'm following an old recipe- memories, touches, even smells come back to me to give me that warm and fuzzy feeling! Have a great labor day weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Red Sun, New Days

The last couple of mornings we've had a bright red sun to greet us in the morning. This was taken more than an hour after I first saw it (I didn't have my camera till then), but it was a bold, bright red ball as it came over the horizon. I'm told the color is due to the California fires. Strikingly impressive sight, yet it humbled me to think of the massiveness of the fires that caused their effects to be seen here.

The red sun started a conversation with my daughter this morning as we headed to school. We first remembered the Hayman fire in our home state of Colorado several years ago. She remembers trying to skateboard around the neighborhood with her older brother, but the smoke was so thick it looked like fog and burned her throat after being outside for awhile. She was eight at the time. Then farther back in history is the eruption of Mount St. Helens. That's before her time, of course, but I described for her the raining ash and smokey skies that we saw here. It was an interesting conversation, talking about nature and its far reaching effects. In a way, nature connects us, doesn't it?

Monday, August 31, 2009

She Likes Me

I had a smile on my face today because I had my first-ever comment on my blog! To celebrate, I stitched up these potholders as a thank you gift to the wonderful gal. Enjoy, Deb!
PS- The patchwork pattern is from what I remember seeing in a library copy of Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing. I'm going off of memory, mind you, so any wonky inaccuracy is all mine!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Bag Done - Check!

I finished up my daughter's book bag today. The pear applique is also a pocket- the right size to throw a couple pencils in. I put a large zipper pocket on the back side, but I left the inside pocket-less and chose to add a separate zippered pouch instead. I figured when the bag is full of books, it'd be hard to get to inside pockets, but the pouch could be yanked out and carried to class (she leaves the bag in her locker).

Note to self- don't try to iron fusible fleece to corduroy. It makes a bubbly wrinkled mess. Not attractive. Heavy, craft-type interfacing works fine.

I also finished putting all my garage sale booty through the wash. I stopped counting how many loads it was...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Garage Sale Booty

It's Friday, my husband is out of town backpacking, so I goofed off today. I only went to one garage sale, though. Twice. Yea, I came home with an armload of textiles, went down to my sewing studio (everyone else in the family calls it a laundry room) and as I started working, I kept thinking of the booty I had left behind in that man's driveway.

SOOOOOO, off I went to retrieve more of the treasure. Boy, was he happy to see me coming! In the end, I relieved him of a huge bolt of unbleached muslin, a laundry basket full of vintage calicos, antique and vintage hankies and scarves, including a silk Vera scarf with a hand rolled hem (score!!), wool sweaters that are already in the washer felting, hand embroidered linen tablecloths and napkins, men's dress shirts to recon, and this really cool 70's piece of fabric designed by a guy named Max Rawicz. I googled him and found out he designed bedspreads in the 70's. I love the big flowers. Didn't get any work done, but what a sweet day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bookin' It

In between putting the hours into some of my other jobs, I'm working on a book bag for H. Her old one has seen better days. The zipper is broken and seams are ripping. The other day H. weighed her bag of books that she drug home from school. It weighed 28 pounds, so no wonder her current bag is tired! She chose some scrap fabrics, and I've been trying to narrow down the design. I want it very practical, of course, but a little bit fun too. Don't you think everything should be that way? So far I only have the pear applique done. More photos as I have more time...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Organize, Move On...

So, I decided to solve my organization problem with the " what-do-I-have-on-hand-that-will-work?" solution. I simply categorized the items into pocket folders. Simple. Done. It may not be worthy of a magazine spread, but it's hidden in a drawer, and frees me up to work on more exciting stuff. Like the book bag I'm currently designing for my teenage daughter. Show and tell soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Messy

The Good: I'm finally getting around to cleaning this up.
The Bad: It's taken years to get around to it.
The Messy: All my zippers, elastics, buttons, and misc. trims all dumped together in one drawer.
The organizational solution: I'm not sure yet, I'm still thinking about what the best containers would be to fit all this stuff neatly, yet keep it all in the drawer. Buy 'em, make 'em, or sew 'em?