22 September 2008

sewing inspiration in blogland

Last week, I promised I would get out a list of my favorite sewing blogs for your reading pleasure. So, again, in honor of National Sewing Month, here you go...

And one great one if you are looking for a little project to get you started:
That's all for now...

15 September 2008

baby stitches

While putting together the sewing book list to the right, I stumbled upon the newest book offering from the talented Amy Butler. Her beautiful book, In Stitches is a favorite source of inspiration and the place where I found the pattern for Avery's quilt. Her newest book, little stitches for little ones, looks like another winner. Laid out in the same format as the other, it is spiral-bound, with a pocket of patterns in the front cover. It features over 20 patterns from bedding to toys and bibs to jammies. Of course all of the samples are put together in her beautiful fabrics and the photos are fabulous. I can't wait to get my hands on this book to try out some great new patterns for the bean. Here are a few shots to wet your appetite...

(All photos from Amy Butler)

13 September 2008

national sewing month

That's right, September is National Sewing Month. Now I have to say that the "official" website lacks inspiration, but there were a few things that I could glean to share with you all...

Here are a few ways that you can celebrate:

  • "Sew more often. If you haven't been sewing lately, find out what's new in the sewing world at a local fabric or sewing machine store." I have included a list of some of my favorite sewing books and books I want to try on the right. These books have beautiful pictures, really cool projects and a ton of inspiration. Check them out from your local library or buy a copy today. Try a new pattern, learn a new technique.
  • "Create your own sewing circle of friends; it’s fun to sew with others!" Nici and I have talked about doing this, but we can't seem to find the time. Maybe we just need to make time, because sewing with the girls is a great excuse to get together.
In a few days I will try to pass along some of my favorite sewing blogs. Enjoy!

12 September 2008

cover up

One of the many tips in Bend the Rules Sewing was the admonishment to take good care of your machine, keeping it free from dust. Now I know, this is one of the 10 commandments of sewing machine ownership, but I have been very bad about it. My sewing machine has lived uncovered for the last few years, in my basement and on the floor under my desk. It has accumulated layers of dust on the top of the machine that I dutifully wipe off, but I am sure the inside is filled with dust bunnies and thread mice. I need to do better. So, the other night, I went searching for inspiration and found a slew of great ideas from others, who like me had started to realize how valuable that little machine was and wanted to protect it. Here are a few fun examples that I found...

This reversible one over at diynamite

This sweet lined one from craftblog

This patchwork one from spool

And my favorite, a quilted one from julieree

Here is mine, inspired by the last one above, but definitely it's own creation.

I have been working very hard to not buy any fabric right now. Yikes! It is really hard, but I have done several of my last few projects using only fabric I have in my stash. For this project, I used some upholstery fabric leftover from recovering some chairs at work and some scraps from my kitchen curtain project.

10 September 2008

bend the rules

I have had Amy Carol's "Bend-the-Rules Sewing" checked out from the library for about a month. Amy blogs over at angry chicken, one of my favorites. I had read through all of the tips and hints and the beginning and looked through the projects, but had yet to make anything. Then the notice hit my inbox. It was due back. Dang it! Now I had to scramble, copy the patterns I wanted, glean all of the sewing goodwill I could and then back to the library.

I love the library, I usually have anywhere from 3-12 books out at one time, but I usually hate returning them. I really like checking out sewing or craft books for the same reason I like to check out cookbooks. All of the above can look beautiful and glossy on the shelf, but be completely useless once it is time to actually use it. By using the library copy first, I can see if I should buy my own copy or not.

Bend the Rules will be going on my holiday wishlist this year. It is a great beginners book, and it is full of easy, fun projects that would be great for gifts or for your own house. She adds some of her own fun detail to projects with embroidery, fabric paint, stamps and more. it is a good creative jumpstart for your own projects. Some of my favorite non-project sections of the book include:
  • her detailed and useful list of basic sewing tools, complete with illustrations and descriptions
  • a how to by a sewing machine guide
  • the debunking of "sewing myths"

Feeling panicked about not actually making anything from the book before it was returned, I scanned her bib pattern, blew it up on the computer and went to work. 30 minutes later I had a project that I am unbelievably proud of. Yep, 30 minutes, start to finish. well almost finish. I didn't have any snaps in the house, so I still need to add that. I did however get to use one of the newly-discovered fancy stitches that my machine can do. I was so excited with how well it turned out. So, I will leave you with a few photos ...

09 September 2008

crafty taxidermy

(Image from etsy.com)

I am not a big fan of putting dead animals on the wall. At all. Much to the dismay of my husband the hunter. If we ever find a nice big house with a basement man room, he can hang as many beer signs and deer heads as he would like, but until then...

That being said, I am in love with this warm, fuzzy, sweater striped doe from Rachel Denny. The other option in her shop right now is a nice, quiet, neutral cable knit, but I am much more fond of the fruit stripe version. Now that, I could put in my living room...

08 September 2008

craftroom envy

(photo from MarthaStewart.com)

Martha's Organizing Tip of the Day is becoming an addiction. The ideas are just so good and clever. This week's Living email also featured a whole collection of organizing ideas. The most impressive to me was a photo tour of Martha's craftroom. Is is really Martha's craftroom? Who cares, it is a cool room. Now, obviously the everyday, non-craft maven will have a hard time achieving this level of craft room nirvana, but it is something to strive for.

There are some really creative uses of regular office furniture and office organizers: flat file drawers for fabric samples, a spice rack for bottled glitter, her own school-sized rack and cutter for kraft paper rolls. So much wonderful crafty goodness that feeds my type-a aspirations.

I would love to hear your crafty organizing ideas if you care to share...

07 September 2008

midnight brownies and homemade applesauce

This weekend, I pulled out a few old favorite recipes. There are no pictures however, because I have decided that food pictures just look horrible when taken with a cheap camera that requires the use of flash. Sorry!

First, I had a bunch of red delicious apples left over from an event. I don't really like that variety so I was trying to find a quick, easy way to use them up. I also had 3 or 4 stalks of rhubarb in the fridge that really needed to be used. So, I whipped up a quart of rhubarb-apple sauce. It is sooooo good. I just chopped the 6 apples and rhubarb into small pieces, put them in a saucepan with about a cup of water and a half cup of brown sugar and stirred them all together. I covered them and let them cook for about 25 minutes. Then I pulled down my food processor, dumped in the goodness and blended it all for a minute or so. It is the perfect mixture of tangy and sweet.

Then, as a farewell gift for my friend Becky as she leaves our office, I made my favorite brownie recipe. The recipe I have had since college. In the original description, the author talked about how she called them Midnight Brownies because they were the perfect study break when you were pulling an all-nighter. I used them for this purpose many times in those college days. They are also perfect for rainy afternoons, girls' nights, and just about any other time as far as I'm concerned. The batter is actually chewy, I am not kidding, it is thick and rich and chewy. Yum!

Here is my adaptation (the original author is from Australia so all measurements were metric):

Midnight Brownies
adapted from Loobylu

1/2 c butter
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 c brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt butter and cocoa powder on low heat in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir on med-low heat until it is all melty goodness.

3. Remove from heat and add eggs and vanilla, stirring until glossy.

4. Slowly add flour, stirring all together. Taste several times throughout for quality control, of course.

5. Pour into a greased baking dish. (I use 6x9 because I like them a little thinner, you can use 6x6 too.) Bake for 25-30 minutes.

6. Cool for about 15 seconds and then eat. Try not to eat them all...

05 September 2008

a place for everything and everything in its place

(image from domino mag)

I really hope I'm not the only one but I have stacks and stacks of back issue decorating magazines: Real Simple, Martha Stewart, Domino, Cottage Living, and some that aren't even published any more.

I can't part with them, too many great ideas, beautiful photos, things I want to look back at later. Now, most of my mags aren't piled around the house. I did actually put them all in magazine boxes a few years ago. So at least they are organized. But it is a bit much.

So imagine my surprise and glee when browsing the Domino magazine website, I discovered their new feature, my deco file. Here you can scan and upload all of the images you want, pull in images from other members, and catalog your favorite decorating books. It can all be in one glorious place totally accessible, organizable, and free. Yippee!

Head on over and check it out...

03 September 2008

local talent

I love blogs. I love etsy. But more then that, I love when I find a local(ish) blogger who also has an etsy store. And not only that, but she is fast becoming a new favorite. Check out lindamade, a New Yorker transplanted to Montana, creating some beautiful things...

I want to try making these potholders soon, very soon...

life in a cottage

A few years ago, I discovered a little magazine that quickly became one of my favorites. I love "Cottage Living" magazine. It is filled with smaller houses, like our cute little bungalow. No McMansions, no sprawling, expansive, over built homes. Just livable, lived-in homes in every shape and size. While the majority of the homes have sort of "traditional" style, some like the shingle-sided beauty in this month's article, "Historic Exterior meets Modern Interior" article. This is why I love this publication. It is not about a certain style, it is about the simplicity of living a "cottage" lifestyle. No room for excess, just what is really important. I love, love, love the chalkboard wall in the second photo. If you have never checked out this magazine, get yourself to your nearest bookstore or super market and get your copy, right now...

(All photos from Cottage Living magazine)

01 September 2008

kids handmade

I love handmade things in general, but kid's clothes, toys and accessories that are handmade are some of my favorite things. I love making toys and I can't wait to sew clothes for Avery. I also think it is so much more special when you get or give a gift that was made with love, rather then just bought at the store. Later this week, I will be posting a collection of handmade gifts that Avery has received, but until then, you can check out the Handmade Kids Sweepstakes on etsy.com. You can look through a great selection of handmade goods in categories such as "furniture", "toys" and "accessories". If you have an etsy account, you can even vote for the finalists in the contest. So get on over there and check out the handmade goodness...