Reviews: November 2010 Archives
Heather Bailey's Happy Stacker. Oh, this project. For me, it was a doozy.
You know how some projects you just jump into and you lose track of time and before you know it, you're done and a whole day has gone by but you're so happy with what you made you don't even care about experiencing missing time?
This was not one of those projects for me. I wanted to make it as a gift for a friend who had her baby several months ago. I was all excited picking out coordinating fabrics from the scrap bin in girliy girl colors with pretty swirly patterns. But that's where my enthusiasm waned and my pace slowed considerably. I would cut out a piece here and there. I would look at the stack of supplies for it I had set at the end of my cutting table, and I would beeline for something, anything else to work on. I don't know why I wasn't into it, but I just wasn't.
Then, I made a lunch appointment with said friend. That way, I KNEW I'd have to tackle this thing and finish it once and for all!
The center pole was easy enough. Awesome! "Why was I so unenthused about this? It's fast and easy!" I started thinking.
Then came the rings. Herm. The first one is a tricky business. The pattern instructions do a pretty good job of explaining how to properly turn and twist them as you sew to create lovely little fabric donuts, but even so, things remained somewhat of a mystery until I actually made one. Somewhere in there I started thinking, "This thing should be called the UNhappy stacker."
But the second ring was indeed easier than the first. The small rings are a little patience-testing, but the bigger ones are not so bad. I ended up basting a lot of things into place and then machine-stitching over my basting.
As my stack grew, I found myself more and more pleased with the project and less and less frustrated. (There's definitely a learning curve.)
When it was done, I wrapped it all up, ready to give to my friend. I'll confess: I was a little fretful about this gift. I don't have kids and am not really in the loop on baby presents. I honestly have very little idea what moms might like for their budding progeny. I was slightly fearful my friend would open it and have to conceal her horror at the monstrosity I had created.
Well, I needn't have worried. When I handed the oddly shaped parcel to my friend, her eyes got big and she asked, "Did you actually MAKE something for us?" When she opened it, she gasped and loved it and had all those reactions gift-givers dream of. (More importantly, her little girl went straight for it when mom got it home.) And you know what? Her excitement made all of the frustration so worth it, I started on two more for a friend who's just had twins (and who I hope doesn't stumble across this blog).
So in the end, I give this pattern a thumbs up. I struggled with some parts of it initially, but once I was up to speed things went along fairly easily. And I am compiling a list of fabrics I'd like to use for future versions, including Eek Monsters, The Poky Little Puppy and Dr. Seuss Prints. There are so many fun cotton print collections, it's easy to coordinate to match the design theme of any baby's room. So if you have an new mom or soon-to-be mom in your social circle, odds are she would love a hand-made gift like this for her little one.
I once promised myself to only knit for myself... I kept that promise until my little one was born and now it seems as though my needles belong to her (even though I won't let her touch them- she puts items away never to be seen again). I can't stop looking for kid patterns or toy patterns. Anything that might get a squeal or a smile. Thus, one day whilst creating my November blog calendar I stumbled upon Bekah Knits Lollipop Skirt. My heart was hardly still and my needles started to sing. I had to make it- I HAD TO MAKE THIS SKIRT. It was cute and made of cotton- Deal- Done- Say no more. I quickly added it to my Google calendar.
My little girl looks adorable in this skirt and the length really works for both of us. The Lion Brand Cotton-Ease yarn was great to work with. The color selection is very extensive making it easy to pick your favorite colors for this skirt. The over 200 yds on each ball means you can get 2 skirts (depending on the sizes) out of 3 balls in different colors. I will make another skirt once she grows out of this one. It is so fun to watch her play in something I knit.
Please excuse a quick detour on Stash Busting. Like many sewers, I have acquired a stash. Often my stash can climb to such amounts that I must impose a limit upon my fabric purchasing until I can deplete my stash back to livable standards or I can hide most of it from the other members in my family (namely, the husband) so that all- including myself- are convinced that my stash is once again at a controllable level. Only then may I recommence fabric purchasing. I get the feeling that I am not alone in the sewing world in this circle of stash fighting/feeding.
Now, I was saying how this book is great for stash busting but it is also good for stash feeding. On the one hand, all the projects are geared to reuse fabrics. On the other hand, the projects in this book are so cute and fun that they make you want to purchase just the right fabric to make your own version. Either way, you will spend many delighted hours in your sewing sanctuary.
I choose to make the Easy, Breezy Skirt which reuses a pillow case to create a simply but beautiful skirt. By taking advantage of the existing hem of the pillow case and the fun detail that often accompanies pillowcases you can sew up a fun skirt in less than 30 min. I was able to reuse a pillowcase that I have been safe guarding for 5-6 years for just such a project. I took stock of my closet and noticed a definite lack of shorter skirts and thus cut mine to 16 in. (17+ in. to include casing). I was in 8th heaven given that all I really had to do was cut one straight line, sew a casing, insert the elastic and sew it closed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I was done. Of course, you can also make this skirt out of Premier Print sheeting (which requires slightly more sewing and adds more flexibility for sizing and details) or quilting cotton (to combine your own funky patterns).
There are several more sheet/pillowcase pattern in this book as well as felted sweater patterns and many more great ideas for household fabric. Of course it goes without saying that all patterns can be completed beautifully with fabric yardage as well. The bottom line of course is that this book is perfect for Christmas gifting. Not only will you find a pattern for everyone but you will probably be able to make them all reusing found fabric from your own home. Sewing Green helps to make this Christmas a Green Christmas!
Our Green theme is going strong and continues with Heather Bailey's New Leaf Folding Totes now with a wipe able edition (more on that below). PLUS this pattern is perfect for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. Quick tangent: Not only can you make a few totes to give to a loved one but you can also make just the pouch (to store memory cards, business cards or change), the wallet (coupons as Heather suggests or as a travel jewelry pouch or small makeup case). This is a really great pattern especially for this time of year. Gift wrap is not required with Heather's super cute appliqués and sash.
I was hesitant when I first began my initial read through of the pattern. Just a glance at the back shows the tote, wallet, pouch and sash. I remember thinking to myself: "So I have to make a wallet for every tote and cram them in there every time to keep the tote neat and cute". Well, yes and no! Yes, basically you do make a wallet for every tote but it is built onto the tote so folding is easy and clever. The sash wrangles all your New Leaf Totes together so you can grab and go. Plus with the attached wallet and sash once you are done sewing you are also done wrapping. These are so gorgeous on their own that any wrapping can only bring them down.
Now- As I like to give you, readers, options and new ideas, I gave this pattern a wipe able, water proof lining in case your pasta sauce breaks or meat dribbles a little you can wipe and go. And no need to worry over staining your new cute tote. I applied Heat N Bond Iron on Vinyl to the lining pieces only. It was very easy and straight forward. However, this ruled out pressing any creases into my lining as instructed. I soon learned that these creases (had they been possible) would have been destroyed when I turned the bag right side out. The lining was really crumpled and creases would have disappeared. The lining can be smoothed and look quite nice once the bag is finished. The exterior creases keep the shape and make folding easy so there is not loss there. This vinyl lining is very sharp and makes for a great addition to this market tote. The fabric I used for the New Leaf Tote was: Nicey Jane Road Stripe, Nicey Jane Picnic Bouquet,& 100 % Cotton Muslin.
A few quick remarks on the pattern. It is easy and well written but I would move the wallet construction to before sewing the tote pieces together. I would also sew the wallet onto the tote exterior before you construct the tote instead of after. I had a real tough time sewing the wallet onto the tote after it was put together. I pulled the bag inside out and tried it that way but it was tough no matter what. I am amazed at how beautiful a market tote can be but given it is from Heather Bailey how surprised can you really be?
Since November is the month of giving thanks, I also like to think of it as the month of giving back and being green. As much as we love the holidays, it is about giving back so why not give a little back to the environment. In an effort to be more green, giving and draw attention to Fabric.com's many eco-friendly products, this month I will be highlighting eco-friendly crafts in honor of Thanksgiving and still bringing the fun or sewing, knitting and crafting in general.
Now- the fun stuff! You may not know but I harbor a secret love of felt food (well, not so secret anymore). This is probably due to my love of cooking coupled with neatness. There is nothing I love more on a rainy day than a good play kitchen full of good looking food! I also harbor another love for donuts. Thus when I found this project by Lilly Bean I knew I had to make it and make it green. Felt donuts look good enough to eat, PLUS with the addition of a simple ribbon loop these tasty felt goodies become great holiday decorations. Bedeck your tree with felt frosted delights or arrange them on a wreath or hang them from a colorful ribbon for a donut-licious garland!
Despite that most of the project is hand sewing, it is pretty quick and instantly satisfying. I nixed the sprinkles and subbed in some yarn swirl to mimic a drizzle of tasty sauce. Maybe some vanilla and raspberry. I used our Ecospun Rainbow Felt cuts from the Eco-friendly & Organic boutique in Cashmere and Walnut Brown: aka Cake donut and chocolate donut. The frosting is Shocking Pink and Peacock Blue: aka Raspberry and blueberry. The instructions were easy and it took about 30 min per donut including making the templates (I used my set of biscuit cutters, the largest one and the smallest), cutting, sewing and adorning. **Tip: for the frosting, I traced the largest biscuit cutter and then free handed the wavy shape using the biscuit cutter as a guide. You can also use I-cord for drizzle, rick rack or use a hole-puncher to punch sprinkles out of felt. I affixed my drizzle with a little fabric glue first and then applied the yarn after. This allowed me to choose the design of my drizzle.
These are a big hit in my house. My husband says they are too realistic and makes him hungry. I am going to make more to grace a cake plate in the kitchen. A whole mound of delicious donuts that will never tempt me!