Tag Archives: sewing

From the hand to the the heart

Our house seems to be a very busy place. I know we don't have the monopoly on activity – in fact, we probably can't even come close to lots of situations. (Especially since I have a cousin who is the mother to four boys). FOUR! Oh goodness…

…but, they love her a lot and are fiercely loyal to her (two are grown up and out the house and they are still this way). I want that for my boys. And, so, I quiet the "messy" voice in my head and turn up the "let's go outside" voice. I try to listen to the "he's learning something" voice. I place special emphasis and value the "homemade" voice the most.

So, of course, we've been busy…

(Winter squash medley for Calum…ready to be frozen)

(a 1st birthday crown for a friend)


And, in my house, homemade can't be complete without a sewing project (or two) left out on the table. Waiting for a few minutes here and there to be eventually be finished.

It's completely normal to listen to the voices in your head, right?

better late than never :: skirt


I finally applied the hem to this "pregnancy" skirt that I started, oh, six months ago. I wore it once with a rough hem and put it aside to work on…it never made it to the sewing pile until I remembered it a few weeks ago. I bought some pre-made bias tape and – voila! – instant hem. (I'm tall and I needed the extra length – AND – my hemlines are never as pretty as I would like).

It was this pattern and I love it. It's the perfect transition between a post-partum and pre-pregnancy body. I used a three-inch piece of elastic rather than the belly band since the first skirt I made hung a bit low and required a l-o-n-g shirt. I do believe that I am in love with elastic skirts. I'm thinking of making another one for everyday wear. I'll let you know if it takes another six months!

Have a great weekend!

A Handmade Fireman Doll


There are a lot of projects out there that I think my son (husband, sister) will like, but I’m never sure. And, most of the time, that’s all right with me. I hardly ever finish a project if I’m not enjoying it. So, even if they don’t like it, I loved making it.

In this case, I thoroughly enjoyed creating this fireman doll from scratch for R – AND – I think that he will just love it. (Not so much with the fishing game).

I have been secretly working on this project for the last two months (it will be an Easter gift). He saw the wooden figure and knew that I was going to make a fireman, but it’s been out of sight, out of mind. Right now, he is really into firemen and looking around, we realized that we were short on people. We’ve got lots of Legos and wooden roads to build, but there’s not a lot of person-to-person interactions going on here.


In typical fashion, I though it might be fun to try and make one for him. I ordered the wooden doll and wool felt from here and used patterns for the jacket and pants from the two books above. The jacket will come off, although the pants are sewn on for good. He can always become someone else who just likes to wear red pants!

But, the hat. Oh, the hat.

A fireman just isn’t a fireman without his hat.

The hat I had to create myself. I’ll admit – it wasn’t easy. It took me
quite a few tries to get it just right (or at least recognizable). But, I had so much fun creating and learning the ways of the small, wooden doll. Maybe, next time he’ll ask for a farmer. I wonder how hard it is to weave 2-inch pieces of straw together…


beauty and the utility quilt

The ins and outs of daily life can be so funny sometimes. Quite often, things work themselves out in a completely different manner that what I was expecting. And, more than likely, it works out just as well or even better than planned.


If I had to choose a way to define my sewing, I would say that I am quilter first and foremost. I was interested in fashion sewing, but fell in love with quilting. One of the only things I sewed for R, as a baby, was his quilt.

Therefore, I was bit bummed (read: feeling tremendously guilty) that I was not going to have time to create a unique quilt for this new baby. The list of projects I wanted to finish was long and I was really enjoying knitting.

I knew I had to cut something off the list and I chose for it to be an elaborate baby quilt. (Oh, the guilt) However, I also knew that a quilt would be useful on the hard floor surfaces that cover most of our home. So, I checked out my fabric stash to see if I could come up with something quick and easy.

Thus, the utility quilt was born. This printed on panel is from a friend who gave it to me over a year ago. It was just sitting there and I had no plans for it.


And, while I briefly thought about machine quilting it myself (seeing as how it was a utility quilt), I decided against it. I’ve only done that once and I wasn’t happy with the results. So, I sent it off to my quilter. I am so glad that I did. She does amazing work and she recognized that her quilting would essentially “make” this quilt.


The beauty of such a utilitarian object astounds me.  I know that we will use the back as often as the front (not something that can always be said about a quilt). She doesn’t have a web site, but can be found through this quilt shop – if you are local.


So, while some of the guilt still remains, I am so happy that this particular project turned out completely differently than I had planned.

A weekend of sewing

The steady hum of the sewing machine filled much of my Sunday. I had a chance to sit and work on some baby-related items, knowing that soon they will be put to good use. I love the anticipation, and yet, the peaceful calm that accompanies those thoughts.


Since this is our first foray into cloth diapering, I made some cloth wipes from some old receiving blankets. I’m not sure how pretty they are, but they should be functional. I do believe that I will be adding ‘serger’ to my Christmas wish list.

While my lovely husband washed my car, (I think nesting is hitting me hard), and ran to the grocery store with our son, I made some nursing pads (based loosely on this pattern) and more of those easy bibs.

It was a very relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon – a chance to revel in the stillness and quiet before birth, a chance to reflect upon our anticipation, and a chance to be “useful” in such an artistic way.

Handmade bibs – easy, easy, easy

The pull to the sewing machine has been strong lately. I am constantly rummaging through my fabric stash, wondering, what can I create today? I have made some matching pajama pants for my two babes out of some knit fabric that had found its way to the bottom of the stash. (I had originally intended to make something for my now 8-year-old nephew as a baby – ha!).

Regardless, it found me and I found it and together we made something useful, but I still had some fabric leftover. With a motherly tug of heart, I knew that it would probably not be held over for a third child. And, then, I saw what I could create:


The easiest baby bibs known to man, thankfully modeled by two of R’s stuffed animals. (Seeing as how, at present time,  my baby still enjoys the dark, warmth of my womb).

I found the pattern here, from a very fun sewing blog. Her pattern was easy to use and there was no need to enlarge the print out. Just cut, tape and go.

The pattern does call for snaps and I was a little bit frightened, but after doing some research and finding a video or two, I felt confident enough to give it a try.


As you can see, they are firmly attached and they work! Plus, it was loads of fun to pound on the snap tool with a hammer (even if it meant wrestling the hammer away from my 3-year-old). And, quite frankly, surprisingly easy. It’s funny how simple a process becomes once it is broken down into steps.

So, I may have picked up just a little more flannel at my craft store while purchasing the snap tool today. Maybe.



Cloth Napkins

In an attempt to reduce our garbage consumption (and to save money), I have been buying fewer paper towels.  We've been using tee towels to dry our hands and to dry the fruits and veggies after washing them. Unfortunately, we're still using paper towels to accompany our meals. And, since my husband works from home, and Ronan and I eat at home for most meals, that means a lot of paper towels.

Many years ago, I had bought some cloth napkins for special occasions. I have two of those left and they are in pretty sorry shape. Still, two is better than none and the brief thought crossed my mind, "I should go buy some more cloth napkins."

I do believe that is the least frugal thought I've had in a while. I have a sewing machine. I have scrap fabric in my stash. Why not do it myself?


These were remarkably easy to make and I didn't even use a pattern or strict measurements (sometimes a complete downfall to the actual completion of one of my projects). I guesstimated on size and cut two and sewed them together (right sides together) as if sewing a pillow. I left a hole to flip out the finished product and made a straight stitch 1/4 of an inch from the edge to give it a finished look.

All of these fabrics are 100% cotton – a leftover skirt fabric and some unused quilt backing. They took hardly anytime at all and have created the base for our ever-expanding cloth napkin collection. Of course, they still only last a day or two, but I am currently in the process of raiding my stash…

Handmade toys: the fishing game

In an attempt to add more creative endeavors to our daily lives, I’ve been reading up on the Waldorf philosophy of education and play. This project is from Creative Play for Your Toddler.

When I finished reading through the book, I showed it to R and figured we could go through it together and decide what to make. To my surprise, he wanted to make everything! After the initial browsing, we decided upon a few projects, one of which was the fishing game. This is a game where you attach magnets to a pole and sew steel washers onto the fish. After placing my order for felt, I drew two templates (a big fish and a small fish) and had R choose some colors and I got to work.


(If you look carefully, you can see that the purple fish in the back was just caught)!

I was debating about whether to make any special types of fish and decided to make a striped fish and attempt a clown fish. To make the stripes, I cut out leftover felt scraps and hand-sewed them onto the front before attaching the two pieces. As I was adding stripes to the white fish, my son declares that he does not want a striped fish.


So, I asked him what we should do about it. He said that we could make the other side “just white.”

So, that’s what we did. My adult brain never would have allowed such an abberation, as I had planned on making both sides striped. But, this way he can have a striped fish sometimes and plain fish at other times.

(Just for the record, he helped me set up the picture, and on this day, he wanted the striped fish).


The grey fish with the horizontal stripe is a snook. A Florida favorite. He was suggested by my husband (the sometimes Florida fisherman). So, I made two “real” fish and the rest can become whatever R wants them to be.

I got the steel washers from my father (who has everything known to man) and the magnets were from a game about building patterns. It was difficult to find circular magnets with a hole in the middle at my lcoal hardware stores, although I did see them online here. I would recommend a pretty strong magnet to pick up the fish so your child does not get frustrated with the game.


Handmade toys: felt ball

Is it possible to be in love with a book? Because, I think that I am in love with this one. I have been on a quest to learn as much as I can about the Waldorf philosophy of education and I grabbed everything from the library that was even remotely related. A neighboring library sent forth Creative Play and I have been in a dreamy, toy-making state ever since.

(100% Wool felt ball, stuffed with bamboo)

I modified the instructions a bit since I used my sewing machine to make the seams on the inside (rather than show off my pathetic blanket stitch). In changing the pattern, I had to modify the dimensions a bit to compensate. (When I get a chance, I'm going to post a PDF of my completed drawings).

I ordered the colored 100% wool felt from here (along with some other fun craft materials). The book originally calls for wool stuffing, but since we live in Florida and wool stuffing can be hard to track down, I subbed some bamboo instead (seems to be another sustainable, antibacterial fiber, although a bit more research on my part is needed). I've used the organic cotton/bamboo batting for a number of quilts and I have been quite impressed with the texture of the fibers.


We also made our own wrapping paper via sponge art. I had a few pre-cut sponges from an art kit and I cut out some other shapes from a house sponge and showed Ronan how to make prints. I think I enjoyed it more than he did because he just wanted to use a paintbrush instead of making stamps. Oh well. He really did enjoy wrapping the present later in "our" paper. And, we think the birthday girl enjoyed it.


Happy 1st Birthday Ella!

Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment of handmade felt toys: the fishing game.

A quilt for all seasons


From The Quiltmaker's Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrations by Gail de Marcken

After a long search, she finally found him. The king's royal clothes were in tatters and his toes poked out of his boots. Yet his eyes glittered with joy and his laugh was wonderful and thunderous.

The quiltmaker unfolded the king's quilt from her bag. It was so beautiful that hummingbirds and butterflies fluttered about. Standing on tiptoe, she tenderly wrapped it around him.

"What's this?" cried the king.

"As I promised you long ago," the woman said, "when the day came that you, yourself, were poor, only then would I give you a quilt." The king's great sunny laugh made green apples fall and flowers turn his way.

"But, I am not poor," he said. "I may look poor, but in truth my heart is full to bursting, filled with happy memories of all the happiness I've given and received. I'm the richest man I know."

"Nevertheless," the quiltmaker said, "I made this quilt just for you."


(End of the Day pattern)

For two dear friends on the occasion of their marriage (albeit a tad late). Congratulations to some kindred spirits…we look forward to all of the goodness and light you will bring to the world.