December 2010 Archives

Tea Time Napkins

December 31, 2010

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Tea is the new coffee, at least according to my Christmas presents and most of my neighbors. Everyone is getting into tea. My mom has a drawer with practically every flavor made. When my neighbor comes over for "Mornings with our Machines" (AKA sewing time) she brings tea. It seems to me that if Tea is going to insist on being so popular, I will do my best to make sure it looks as good as it tastes. Everyone knows about the tea cozy and it is very effective, super cute and perhaps one day I will create a knitting pattern for one. There are tons of fun sewing patterns out for Tea Cozies as well. But it occurred to me that what was really needed to decorate your tea table were Tea Time Napkins. These specially sized napkins are just right for dabbing at the corners of your mouth and prettying up your cup and saucer. Embroidered with jazzy tea cups and edged with velvet ric rac, these napkins are gorgeous enough to adorn a tea table whether it is just a quiet cup for yourself or a get together with a close friend.

Here's what you need:

1 yd of quilting cotton (makes 6 Tea Time Napkins)

6.5 yds of velvet ric rac

Sublime Stitching (great tea and cake embroidery patterns)

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Cut Twelve 10 in. by 10 in. squares. Embroider 6 of the squares (these will be the fronts of your napkins) with your favorite Sublime Stitches Tea patterns. I love the tea cups (obviously), cake and pie but you can get crazy with some Mexican dancing girls or some sweet birds. Once the fronts have been embroidered, apply the ric rac to the backs of the napkins (the blank squares) with the velvet facing up. Line up the ric rac with the edges of the fabric and stitch down the middle to secure in place (this should be a ¼ to 3/8 in. seam. With right sides facing pin the fronts to the back napkins and stitch around the edges, going over the ric rac seams to prevent them from showing and leaving a 2-3 in. turning gap. Clip your corners and turn your napkins right sides out and press. Top stitch around the edges to close the gap and finish the napkins. Press again and set your tea table. Make a set for your favorite Tea Time partner to prevent jealousy and so you can enjoy these delicious napkins where ever you drop in for a 'cuppa'. Pinkies Out!

UFO's! Not in the skies, but in your sewing room!

December 30, 2010

It's a growing menace (for me anyway): UFO's, otherwise knows as UnFinished Objects.

We all have them - projects we started with great enthusiasm, but somehow abandoned on the road to completion. Or maybe we weren't THAT enthusiastic about them to begin with. I have a couple of alterations I promised to friends that have been sitting untouched for months, because they're not urgent and I just don't feel all that excited about them.

But as 2010 comes to a close, I am vowing to unfetter myself from these menaces ASAP.

For items that I have promised to other people, I am going to plow through them one-by-one and free myself from my guilty feelings brought on by all that procrastinating.

For the projects that are the orphans of my creative ADD, I am going to revisit each of them and decide if I am going to finish them up or delete them from the to-do list. It's a painful concept to me, ditching a half-finished project, but if it saves my sanity, it's the right decision in the long run.

Once I have identified all the UFO's that I am indeed going to complete, I will schedule them out throughout the first quarter of the year so I'm not overwhelmed by a pile of "chore" sewing.

That's my game plan. Anyone care to join me in creating a fresh slate for creative endeavors this year?

Quick, Easy, Sexy New Year's Dress

December 29, 2010

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If you are in a pinch for a fabulous New Years Dress or just looking for a simple classic but easy dress to wear on the big night. Or you are a budget minded, but not less glamorous Diva looking to out-do all the 'Over-doers' then look no further. I have come up with a great modification of a simply beautiful knit dress, the Nancy Dress found in our Free Pattern Download section. You may previous have tagged this dress as a must-have for spring and summer but you are going to have to add it to your 'little black dress for all occasions' wardrobe category. Not only does this mod make the Nancy dress even better for Spring and Summer but also kicks up the wear ability for dates, dancing and enjoying the night into the wee hours. Because the Nancy dress is a knit dress you know it will be Uber comfy, will not wrinkle, super washable, packable and will swing and clingy like nobody's business while you shake your groove thing on the dance floor. But now you can add some extra style and security that strapless dress cannot offer. My modification is a simple an extra wide, one shoulder, gathered strap that really matches what is hot on the runways this fall. The best part is you don't need to purchase extra fabric to add this detail. You can find it in your scrapes from making the original Nancy dress. Here's the low down

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Make your Nancy Dress according to the instructions. Once complete, cut a 6 in. by 19 in. strap from your remaining fabric. With right sides facing pin one end of the strap rectangle to the front of your dress on the side that you would like to have your strap, 1 in. in from the side seam. I put mine on the same side as fullest side of my hair (you ladies know what I mean) that way I could wear a chic barrette to keep that side of my hair back and show off my strap detail. With a ¼ in. seam allowance, stitch your strap on the front, back stitching at both ends. Now, on the back of your dress pin your strap (right sides facing) to the opposite side of the dress and stitch in place. Now mark the center of the strap and using a basting stitch, sew across that line. Gather your strap and secure with a regular stitch. This will add gathers on your strap which you can leave as is or highlight with a ribbon or pin. Your new fabulous Nancy Dress is done and ready for New Year's Eve Parties. You can be sexy and confident that your dress will stay put and you will look amazing all night long.

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Nearly-Instant Hostess Gifts from the Stash

December 28, 2010

Ok, I'll admit it: sometimes, I am woefully unprepared for social gatherings. I mean to be on top of my game, but with all the hubub of holiday time, sometimes, I just fall behind. 

If you have this same problem and you have an invite to a swank soiree on New Year's Eve, fear not! With just a quick rummage through your scrap pile, a hot glue gun and some creativity, you can dress up a last-minute bottle of wine into a fun gift for the host or hostess who was gracious enough to invite you over (even though they probably know you're a Last-Minute Lulu like me).

First, take a piece of 8.5" x 11" paper and fold it in half lengthwise. Cut a shape that tapers at the top and has a hole in it to slip over the wine bottle as shown. For reference, mine is about 5.5" from the base to the "shoulder."

Find a scrap of fabric slightly larger than your paper base.

Working in small sections, run a bead of glue around the outside edge of the paper and affix it to the wrong side of your fabric. I use hot glue because it's quick like a bunny, but if you have time and prefer a different fixative, by all means, use your preferred method.

As you spread your glue, try to get right up to the edge of the paper -- this will help seal the fabric and prevent fraying.

Once your glue is dry, trim the fabric, using the edge of your paper as a guide. Don't forget to cut out the hole for the neck of the bottle!


Now that you have a fabric base to your bottle decor, trim it however you like!


Once all trim is applied, use another scrap of fabric to join the back edges of your bottle cover together. I just glue everything in place, so I can slip the whole thing over the bottle without having to use any closure elements like snaps or velcro.

For my first sample, I went the Santa route, trimming it with white fur scraps and a belt made from a strip of grosgrain and a buckle cut from craft foam.


For my second sample, I went with a more mod style, and used two different types of vinyl to create a layered floral adornment.


I love quickie, silly projects like this because you can easily tailor your design to the recipient's taste, and they take about 30 minutes to bang together. Instant fun, and you don't look like a schmuck who just ran by the grocery store on the way to the party (even if you did).

Kitchener Stitch

December 27, 2010

There are many connective stitches in knitting but the Kitchener stitch is one of the most popular because it gives a seamless appearance and a quality joining. You can use the Kitchener stitch to connect two pieces of knitted fabric end to end not side to side. The Kitchener stitch would not be used to join 2 sides of a sweater (try the mattress stitch) but 2 ends together (like a toe of a sock or the bottom of a bag). You can use the Kitchener stitch with live stitches on your needles or with bound off edges (like demonstrated below). It can be tricky at first but practice, practice, practice will make you a pro in no time. You will be amazed once you get the hang of it how many applications you will discover for this handy stitch. I wished many times that I had known of it sooner.

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To seam 2 bound off Stockingette edges first I recommend you steam as much of the curl out as possible. This will make it easier to line up your edges, see your stitches and make sure you keep them even as you go along. Next starting at the right side, look for the stitch closest to edge that forms a point at the edge, with the V upside down (knit stitches are in a V shape so either the point faces up, with the V upside down or the point faces down with the V right side up), with a threaded tapestry needle, slide your needle under the point and out.

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Do the same on the other piece of fabric, finding the upside down V closest to the right side edge and go under the point with your needle. Repeat with the other side, going all the way down your fabric. It is not necessary to pull your stitches tight as you go but you may. You can always pull both tails to tighten them up and watch your fabric zip together. You will notice that you have seamless joined your fabric by sewing knit stitches to join your fabrics. This gives a nice sturdy seam and flawless appearance. You can use this seam to join 2 identical ends of a scarf, the back of a shawl collar or the finger ends of mittens. It is not only immensely satisfying to watch your stitches disappear but also quite relaxing in itself. 

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Noel Cable Cowl- Free Knitting Pattern Download

December 24, 2010

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A little something for you, a little something for a friend, a silk/wool cable cowl is just the thing. 100 percent luxurious, this delicious cowl is knitted of silk and wool (2 fibers known for their warm characteristics) with a wonderful cable and lace stitch pattern. Wear the Noel Cable Cowl with the lace on the bottom for a shoulder hugging lace yoke with the cable flowing up. Or wear the cowl with the lace on top folded over for a delicate lace edge and extra warmth under your chin. The Noel cowl also comes with blocking choices: you can choose to only block the lace to open it up and leave the cables tight and the cowl fitted. Or you can block the whole cowl to the finished size and have a slouchy, delicate but still oh-so-warm cowl.


The tweedy color way of the Nashua Isabella adds just the right amount of variation in color and a slight slub texture. This texture is not enough to distort the stitch definition so the cable shine bright and really finish off a nice wool or down coat. The colors available in the Isabella are all remarkable winter, fall or spring colors to top off any coating fabric should you choose to make your own coat while you are whipping up cold weather accessories. The feel of the Nashua Isabella is a delightful blend of silk and wool. It is not as stretchy as wool but there is not irritation but all the softness and plushness. I used Garnet in my pattern which was a pleasant bright red but it was not a saturated red (which I often find hard to photograph). Garnet is more of a light red without being in the pink family. It is a soft color that is gentle on the eyes and provides a burst of color for the color shy.

The Noel Cable Cowl is a quick knit that involves some intermediate techniques like cabling 2 cables at once and constructing a flipped lace cuff. This pattern makes a great gift for close friends or a great way to reward yourself. Noel can be knit up in any Heavy Worsted Weight yarn or any DOUBLED worsted weight yarn. Enjoy!

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This is not your yo-yo, ma

December 23, 2010

SuperDon, HR man extraordinaire, is at it again! This week, he's passing along some of his yo-yo magic:

After numerous holidays of watching my mother put together yo-yos with her scrap fabrics, I decided that I too could make a yo-yo out of fabric. I jumped online and purchased a yo-yo maker and settled down to create my first yo-yo, which actually remind me of Angela's fleurettes from Season 3 of Project Runway. I was determined to make a string of yo-yos long enough to act as a garland for my Christmas tree.


Well, I was not successful starting with the smaller yo-yo maker template for a couple of reasons (according to my mother). First, I used cheap thread. When you have completed your yo-yo, you have to pull the thread through the fabric. My thread was not strong enough to make it through the pull. Secondly, I started with the smaller template. This prevented me from being able to fit my large fingers into the yo-yo to pull out the first thread.


I moved to the extra large template (2 3/8 inch final product) after several failed attempts.

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Armed with stronger thread and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring playing on the TV in the background, I proceeded to follow the step-by-step instructions listed in the included instruction manual. The instructions were perfect. I used my mom's suggestion of putting my finger in the middle as I tightened the thread in the yo-yo to pull it all together. 

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  Within a couple hours, I had produced several yo-yos. 

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(several weeks later... time passes...)


I put together about 250 yo-yos. I decided to string them together in a rainbow pattern for my Christmas tree. Since I cannot sew with a machine yet, I stitched them together by hand (after failed attempted with safety pins and ribbon). 






I am still debating whether I could do that for an entire quilt...



Lion Brand Wool Ease Chunky Review

December 22, 2010

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I have written before about Lion Brand's Cotton Yarns (here, here, here & here) but this is my first experience working with their wool yarns. I am also a bit of a newbie when it comes to chunky yarn. Frankly, I would always tell myself: "Self, why should you pay $X for 80 yds when you can pay the same amount and get 120 yds?" So I ended up with a stash full of worsted weight and never knew what I was missing.

Fact: You can knit a sweater with fewer yards in Chunky weight yarn than worsted.

This is very true and I know because Lion Brand tells me so. They even have this groovy webpage complete with chart and all. According to their chart to make a 36 in. chest Adult sweater you need 1200 yds of worsted weight yarn. To make the same size but knit with chunky weight yarn you need just 900 yds. 300 yds less! That also calculates into time. The reason you need less length is because each stitch covers more, so you use less stitches and also less time! If I had only sat down and thought it through, not only could I have many more sweater but also more time to knit, well, more sweaters (deadly circle).

So getting back to Lion Brand Wool yarns, I started with Wool Ease Chunky in Coco Knits Prairie Boots pattern. I was not only amazed while knitting the pattern but also when wearing the finished product. With only 20% wool, there is no itching but there is the same stretch and forgiveness that I love knitting wool. Y'all know how I am partial to natural fibers but I could not tell that this wasn't wool when I worked with it. I knew from choosing it that there was some acrylic but I was shocked to learn that Wool Ease is mostly acrylic and less so wool. I was sure from handling that it was the other way around. Hindsight being what it is I should have guessed when I didn't have to deal with splits. Had you do a blind test with this yarn, I would have guessed it to be Merino with its soft touch and delicious fuzz but no itching. This was a perfect choice for this pattern because it gives such comfort to the feet. 


My feet feel cushioned but also warm. The stitch definition is what you would expect from wool. A great definition for cable and textured stitches but also a little bit of fluff to soften the look. This yarn would be great for cabled hats, textured poncho/capes, chunky bags and cozy sweaters. Since Wool Ease is 80% Acrylic it is washable making is also great for kids' sweaters, scarves and mittens. The thick yarn will also knit up a quick and cozy blanket. You can find many fabulous patterns for this yarn on Lion Brand's website or Ravelry. Hands down you must try it; I'm addicted!

Coco knits Prairie Boots

December 20, 2010

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Hands down, I love Coco Knits shoes patterns. Not only do they look very attractive on the pattern cover but it seems as though I learn a new technique or a different twist on an old standard with every pattern. For such conventional accessories as shoes, Coco Knits is very outside the box. I enjoy knitting these patterns. Usually while starting a new pattern that could be a challenge, I find the need to totally focus. But with the Coco Knits patterns, I am more relaxed and can engage in gossip, movies, or knit while watching my daughter play. Coco Knits are not relegated to 'Nap time only'. Now to the Prairie Boots pattern specifically. The Prairie boots ended up being super soft and comfy AND WARM. As a cold natured person (my feet are like icicles after Oct), I saw this pattern and had stars in my eyes. The finished product turned out better than I had dreamed. The chunky yarn gives a great textured look to the relatively simple stitches. The combination of garter and ribbing gives this boot a classic yet edgy look because of the structure and composition. I find that the boots look great pulled up with leggings and when you wear jeans or khakis, folded over gives the most warmth and style. Because these boots are knit with such chunky yarn, they are really cozy, like a snuggy for your feet. I love curling up on the couch to knit with these on. I find my need for a blanket has greatly decreased. Plus, at a recent holiday party at my house, a friend discovered these in my knitting bag and showed them around. Everyone wanted a pair. They were such a hit that I am planning on giving them as gifts and to those I can't get to before Christmas will be getting them as Ground Hog's day present, New Year's, or birthday gifts. I used Lion Brand's Wool Ease and it was a pleasure. The color selection is out of this world, making it easy to customize this gift for any one.'s Bulky Yarn selection is amazing so you can make the Prairie Boot in any fiber, in any color for any loved one or just to fill your closet. Everyone knows that for a girl to truly be happy, she needs super cute slipper boots in every color to match any possible outfit selection. The buttons really add to the classic, modern look. I should also add that this pattern even fits my athletic calves so it is not just for the petite.

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Now for the knitty gritty. I will be making these again, because they were so fun but also because they are so great to wear. But when I do, I think I will try using a size 9 needle for the whole boot instead of changing to a 10. The ribbing on the bottom of the boot gives lots of stretch while hugging the warmth to your feet. But I think I can still achieve this with a size 9. Should that not work on the upper boot because of the garter; I will delay the change from 9 to 10 needles until I start the garter stitch. I might try changing it up a little by making the boot taller.

Raveled Here

p.s. I wanted you to know that these boots can handle the action so they are shot amide my daughter's toy mess. They are battle hardened and perfect for busy moms. 

Knitted Cupcake Ornaments

December 17, 2010

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Knitted ornaments are huge this year and why not. They are so classic, vintage-y and can be customized to compliment your tree or coordinated in groups for a great knitted tree. Knitted cupcakes are a great addition to your holiday decorations because they are yummy, are a total icon for holiday baking and are soft to the touch for a baby/toddler friendly bottom of the tree (like at yours-truly's house). Of course, you know I love them because they are fast. These cupcake ornaments can last the whole year through as cute decorations on a cake plate, in a play kitchen or lining the shelf in a kid's room. I knit a whole plate for my mom to display on her dining room table year round.

These cupcakes are easy and fun to make. I based mine on the Floofy Cupcake pattern for free on Ravelry. I used a great bright Peaches n Crème cotton yarn in Peacock ( has 5 pages of colors!) for the 'wrapper' of the cupcake. Then I changed to merino wool in a light brown color (Gedifa Extra Soft Merino in Nugat). I choose wool to give it a softer cake-like look. I wanted the light brown because I was jonesing for some caramel cake. Then after 3 rows, on the 4th row I started to strand some White Gedifa Merino to imitate white icing dripping down.   Since the pattern is divisible by 6, I knit 4 sts in brown, then 2 sts in white for round 4. The next row, I varied it up a bit by knitting 3 sts in brown then 3 sts in white, then 4 sts in white, then 3 sts in brown, etc. I didn't follow that exactly since icing doesn't always drip the same. I did not add a ribbon hanger because when I pinned it on I thought it was too distracting. A ribbon was pretty but when I just used a wire ornament hanger and hung it in the tree, the hanger disappeared and the cupcake really stood out on the tree.

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My cupcake ornament really adds something special to my Christmas tree. It softens the hard plastic, metal, glass and porcelain ornaments. The sheen of the merino catches the light and glistens just like moist cake and royal icing. The bright colors of the cotton mean you can make cupcakes in all colors and flavors (the merino comes in many colors as well) you can decorate your cupcakes with French knot or beads for Jimmies, or buttons make yummy embellishments too. 

Embroidering with I-cord

December 15, 2010

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I-cord is one of the most versatile of knitting stitches; even non-knitters can make i-cord. It makes great straps, handles and edges but knitted in long lengths, i-cord can be used for awesome textural embroidery. Since i-cord takes no time to knit in length and little concentration, you can easily knit enough for this project or a similar while watching your favorite shows, a movie or even at a kids holiday play. I decided on a pillow cover so I could just remove it and tuck it away each year. I can reuse the pillow with another cover and not worry about storing pillows. To recreate my Holly Pillow Cover you will need

1 skein of Acrylic Yarn

1 spool of thread to match the yarn

1 yd of Velvet

1 pillow to recover

Scrape of coordinating fabric (big enough for a 4 in. diameter circle)

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The pillow I chose to recover was 20 in. square so I cut one 21 in. square for the front and one 8 by 21 in. piece and one 17 by 21 in. piece to make the back envelope. I laid my front piece right side up and with chalk; I wrote "Holly" rubbing it out till it looked right. Next, I cast on 3 sts and knit roughly 24 in. of i-cord in a green acrylic yarn (you might remember me starting this back in November). I dry fit it to the pillow to make sure it was long enough before I bound off and wove in the ends.

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Using the chalk lines and pinning as you go, secure the i-cord onto the pillow front. Starting from the back of the pillow piece, use a running stitch to secure the i-cord in place. Finally, I used a glass to trace a 4 in. circle on a spare piece of red Sateen and made a yo-yo to highlight the 'O' in Holly, and adding some more holiday color. I used a running stitch around the edges to secure the yo-yo.

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Next, with right sides facing pin the front pillow piece to the back pieces, overlapping the back pieces to form an envelope and using a 1/2 in. seam, stitched all the way around the pillow case. Carefully clip the corners and turn right side out. Slip your pillow inside and admire your work.

This project is fun and easy way to add Christmas cheer to your home. You can change up the words, of course, for any holiday but I like to stray from the traditional slightly with words like "Holly, Stockings, Eggnog, or Caroling" These words are obvious enough that determining the holiday message will be easy but a little bit different. 

Birds A-Hangin' Ornaments

December 14, 2010


Need some ornaments? If you're like me I can hardly bear the thought of actually BUYing ornaments. I'd rather make them, or receive them as gifts...or make them FOR gifts! Although making ornaments can be time consuming, I find that during the holidays, it doesn't feel like Christmas until I've made something. These stuffed bird ornaments are easy and fun and I know they will be gracing my Christmas décor for years and years to come. 

Start by cutting the bird body template (<-- click here!) With right sides of the fabric together, pin your ribbon on the X of the back, place your ribbon loop inside the body. Stitch ¼'' seam allowance, including the ribbon (careful not stitch the rest of the ribbon inside as you sew around!). Leave the tail open. Clip the corners and curves. Cut the tail end with pinking shears, because this will remain open. Turn inside out, your ribbon loop should be out and functioning.

Now stuff it! Use craft stuffing* to fill the body to your liking. Use a thread to wrap around and gather, forming the tail. I tied the thread around 3 times, double knotted. I like using this metallic thread because even if the thread shows a little (and it will) it will still look festive and nice. Take 2 matching buttons for the eyes and hand stitch the buttons on THROUGH the head securing both at the same time and keeping the bird brains stuffing in place. Embroidered French knots for eyes would work too.

For the wings, with right sides together, stitch with ¼ seam allowance and leave an opening between the dots to turn inside out. Depending on your fabric choice, you could add interfacing for extra stiffness; I didn't find it necessary for quilting cotton. Clip the corners and curves. Turn inside out to show the right sides of fabric. Carefully turn under open seam and top stitch along the whole wing. Place the wings where you want on the bird body. Pin the wings and whip stitch around the bottom to secure.  


Suggestions & other fun stuff:

  • For extra embellishing, you could get some feathers* and position them IN the tail so they would plume out of the opening.
  • Complimentary color thread or embroidery floss for attaching the wings would also be cool for an extra pop!
  • Place the wings slightly off from each other so you can see a peak of the 2nd wing in profile view.
  • Use these fabric markers to color and decorate your bird, great for kids too!
  • Choose a blender fabric for the wing, and choose a busier print for the body, like retro-mod quilting cotton, or vice-versa. This helps your bird stand out!
  • Get crazy and pick different fabrics for each of the 6 pieces! Remember, it doesn't have to be Christmas fabric, these birds can hang all year long! Anything looks Christmas-y when you put it on the tree, right?

*available at local craft store

Felt Poinsettia Wreath- Free Pattern

December 13, 2010

I love making wreaths but hate that they don't make it from year to year. Having seen all the great felt delights and crafty wreaths in blogland, I decided that a gorgeous wreath that lasts from year to year is in the cards after all. Deciding on Poinsettias was not hard as they are one of my favorite symbols of the season. Plus, I could easily incorporate buttons as flower centers and holly berries. The pattern is easy and the large flowers mean you only need to make 3-4 of them to cover your wreath. I covered an empty wreath with fleece to give the wreath a cozier look. You can also use sweater knits or minky. Measure around your wreath's circumference and girth and cut a rectangle using those measurements plus 10 in. to the length (this accommodates any tucks needed to make the fabric lay flat around the circle) out of sweatshirt knit. Secure with pins and mattress stitch the knit in place.  

I cut out my patterns pieces (4 petals per flowers and 2-3 holly leaves per berry bunch) out of felt and selected my buttons. I used interesting ¾ to 1 in. buttons for the flower centers and 1/8 to 5/8 in. red buttons for the Holly Berries. Layout your completed poinsettias and holly leaves on your wreath and arrange as you see fit. Once you like the layout stitch each flower and leaf in place and then stitch on your holly berry buttons. If needed tack down the tips of your poinsettia leaves to keep them from flopping forward. Add a ribbon loop to the back and hang from your door. You can call it complete and set up shop by your front door to eavesdrop on all the compliments your neighbors will surely pay on your wreath. When the season is over, tuck it away to be trotted out again year after year!

The Felt Poinsettias and Holly leaves can easily be used to decorate other Christmas projects such as table runners, gift tags, Felt Advent calendar, garland, bunting, pins or headbands. 


Oliver + S Christmas Dress

December 10, 2010

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Wee Christmas Dress

One of the joys of sewing and children is making festive holiday clothing. However, Being the son of a teacher who loved a good (and I mean GOOD) holiday sweater, my husband looked at me with a very wary eye when I told him that I was making my little girl a Christmas dress. No bells, reindeer or dancing cookies, he told me with a look that brooked no argument. "Why" I cooed innocently, "I had no intention of doing anything of the sort." And that was mostly true. So given my new rules, I sorted through my mountain of children's dress patterns and selected my favorite Oliver + S pattern: Birthday Party Dress. I had some very Christmasy but not overly Christmasy fabric that I thought would meet the rules that I had in my stash from years past (plus the rest of the pillow case used in my Sewing Green by Betz White post). It is Chateau Roccoco by Free Spirit, but here are some similar fabrics available that are not obviously Christmasy but will deliver all the cheer needed

Delft Remix


Sancutary (Prints featured below)

This dress was cut in 2T and fit very well is all the right places. While she is not yet 2 it looks as though it will fit to at least her birthday in 2 months and even to the spring. The pattern goes from 6 M to 3 T so I can get another years size out of this pattern.

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I really enjoyed making Oliver + S patterns. They are surprisingly simple which is very good considering you are making kids clothing. All the details that will make the clothes durable and lasting all included and there are no difficulties getting the clothing on and off. This is too often the case with kids clothing, especially the outfits that are too cute to pass up until you try to get them on a wiggling child or off in hast. The buttons down the back make this an easy on and off. Plus there was no silliness to make the dress look wonderful but uncomfortable for the child to wear. The Birthday dress was all adorableness without hindering my little one's movement in anyway. I loved it, loved it, loved it. I enjoyed making it so much I am making the Tea Party dress for a birthday party we are invited to this month. I know it will be a hit!

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Superdon's Holiday Ornament Express!

December 9, 2010

(Yet another fab project from our fearless and ever-toiling HR King, Superdon! -- Holly)

Looking for a quick, no sew project that makes a great ornament for the Christmas tree or a garnishment for one of your Christmas gifts? I've got the perfect project for you!


First, gather up your supplies. For this project you will need a 2-inch styrofoam ball, straight pins, ribbon, scissors and 40-45 2x2 inch squares of fabric. I used cotton prints, but if you want to go for a more elegant pine cone, special occasion fabrics are also an option. This is a great way to use up some of your scrap fabrics, too. For my project I used owl fabric I had purchased several months ago (owls are very "in" at the offices right now). I have made several ornaments now - I found that the lighter fabrics show up better on my Christmas tree versus the darker color fabrics. You'll have to be the judge for your own tree.

 Take a 2-inch strip of fabric and cut it down into two inch by two inch squares.


These squares will be used to cover the styrofoam. Take one of the squares and pin-tack it into the styrofoam. Then, fold a new square in half. Fold the half into a triangle. The first four that you put down should have the fold facing out.


I used four pins with each piece of fabric to hold it in the styrofoam. Don't be chintzy with the pins, because I attempted to conserve for one of the ornaments and had the fabric come undone. There will be some overlap between pieces at first, but you will cover this up with your triangle pieces of fabric.


The second row should go directly over the four pieces from the first row, a little higher on the styrofoam ball. The fold should be facing down now for the rest of the ball. Once you have completed this row, all subsequent rows should stagger in-between each of the preceding rows. Keep repeating this process until you get to the top of the ball.




When you get to the top of the styrofoam ball, some of your pins will start to show - this is fine! I ended my ornament two separate ways. For the example shown, I cut out a small square and pin-tacked it in. For another one, I ended with multiple triangles intersecting - try different ways and see what you like best.



Finally, it's time to add your ribbon. I used two separate kinds - a thin ribbon and a larger ribbon out of my box of supplies. I will say that I prefer the thinner and sheer ribbon - it allows the ornament to speak for itself versus detracting from your hard work. It's entirely your choice though.



Creating my first ornament took me about an hour and a half, but that could have been due to an episode of Glee distracting me as I worked. It still takes me about an hour to do an ornament during TV time. My grandma showed me the pattern - shout out to Granny - but she used a much larger styrofoam ball and only Christmas fabrics. Good luck crafting and be sure and clean up any stray straight pins you may have dropped when you finished. Safety first!


More Last Minute Holiday Gifts

December 8, 2010

tea towel.jpg

You might still be rushing to get some more homemade holiday gifts under your belt or maybe just looking for some quick projects to help keep your sanity as you plan to spend the next weeks surrounded by family, friends and friendly strangers. I find knitting to be a really good excuse for some blatant "Me time". When I first whip out my needles the questions are inevitable but after the first few minutes all goes quiet as they watch me work and then drift away to leave me be. This might be just what you need this holiday season. But if you needth not quiet time, then these quick gifts make great ice breakers and are easy enough so you can share some seasonal gossip while your knit away.

Tea Towels: I love, love a pretty tea towel. These knitted tea towels make awesome presents or hostess gifts. They are some simple but so beautiful. Tea towels are also a good excuse to bust out your cotton before your spring sweaters come calling. They are small enough to test out a new cotton or linen yarn before committing to 10-12 balls for a sweater or shawl. These towels are meant to be used but don't be surprised if the recipient thinks they are too beautiful and uses them for display only. There are tons of free patterns on Ravelry, including a great one from Lion Brand but mine is from Mason Dixon Knitting. Try a cotton blend for better drape and sheen (Nashua Creative Focus).

pocket monster.jpg

Pocket Monsters: Though actually named Pocket Creatures, Pocket Monsters stuck in my head when I first beheld this free pattern from Knitty and I refuse (Refuse, I say) to correct myself. I love making these little guys and always make at least 6 each Christmas. They are fast, super cute and loveable to children and adults. In fact, my first monsters went to my brother and his wife and they love them. They are all handmade, even the warmer that is heated in the microwave to keep wee and not-so-wee hand warm. Pocket Monsters are also fantastic stocking stuffers! I think the Monsters would look smashing in this Filatura di Crosa Fancy Tempo yarn with its variegation and slubs. Very monsterish!

Photos by Shaun Krisher

Flopsy Hat Crochet Project

December 7, 2010

Big flopsy hats are big this year. And I love them. Hats are one of my favorite accessories. They are an easy, fashionable way to add the finishing touch to your outfit- and you don't even have to do your hair! They also make great presents!

Shanhat.jpgThe only drawback I've experienced with this style of hats is sometimes they are so flopsy and heavy, they don't stay on your head very well. This crochet pattern I've created is a quick project that solves this problem! I love crocheting with super bulky yarns because it provides almost instant gratification and I like that chunky look.


For this hat I used Berroco Sundae Yarn in Ale, with a Rosewood Crochet Hook size P. I love the color variations and single texture- makes for excellent stitch definition. You can use any super bulky weight yarn of your choice. I used this floral chiffon and made a thin scarf. You could also use ribbon.


CH 4, SL ST in first CH to form a ring.

Round 1: CH 3, work 11 DC in ring- 12 ST. Join with SL ST in the beginning chain. Place marker at the start of the round, move marker up if needed.

Round 2: CH 3, work 2 DC in each BL around - 24 DC, join with SL ST in beginning CH.

Round 3: CH 3, DC in the next BL. work 2 DC in the next BL, DC in the next ST, repeat alternating 2 DC and 1 DC around - 36 DC. Join with SL ST in the beginning CH.

Round 4: Repeat round 3- 54 DC. Join with SL ST in the beginning

Round 5: CH 3, DC in each BL around, join with SL ST in the beginning CH. Place marker at end of round 5.

Round 6: repeat round 5

Round 7: repeat round 5

Round 8: CH 3, DC in BL, skip a stitch, DC, decrease around, for 26 DC total. Join with SL ST from the   beginning of the round. Fasten off. This last round creates openings to thread scarf/ribbon through, as well as decrease the diameter of the hat.


Take a scarf or ribbon and weave the scarf through Round 8 and tie in a bow or let hang! You can make your own scarf with chiffon or other lightweight fabric. I cut a 58'' x 6.5'' strip and used a roll hem stitch on my serger. Enjoy!

Fabric Covered Hangers with Scented Satchel

December 6, 2010

fabric hanger

Materials needed

1/2 yd quilting cotton (makes 2 hangers)

1/2 yd light weight fusible interfacing

1/8 yd of muslin

2 small buttons

8 in. of 1/8- 1/4 in. ribbon


These fabric covered hangers with herb filled scented satchels make great Christmas presents for your whole list. Mine are child sized to make sure my little one's closet always smells sweet and her best dresses are lightly scented with lavender. These are great in aboys' closets or teens that often let unpleasant scents grow from lack of attention. You can also fill the satchels with rice scented with essentials oils in a favorite scent for special friends. These delicious delights take no time but are a dreamy luxury to bring to any closet. 

Click on the image to download.

Fabric hangers.jpg

Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice! Trash-to-Treasure Holiday Shirts Pt. 4

For those of you who might have missed the first three installments of Reuse, Recycle, Rejoice! let me fill you in. We challenged our staffers to create new holiday finery by upcycling old garments. The starter garment could come from the closet stash or from a thrift store, but it could not be a new item. I love seeing the results of this creative challenge!

Today's adorable holiday shirt makeover comes to us from Victoria, and what a darling idea it is! She chose to wrap herself up (like the gift she is) in ribbons and bows. I love that she showed us a new way to have fun with Yo Yos!

This is a great example of how to turn a plain sweatshirt into a festive party cardi with just a snip of the shears and a handful of easy embellishments. Thanks for showing us how to wrap up a shirt makeover with a super cute kick, Victoria!


Pick your Interfacing!

December 3, 2010

diaper bag.jpg

Many patterns call for interfacing but most also don't expand on which interfacing to use for that pattern. There are many different interfacings to choose from. I'm going to break it down for you to make it easier to pick the right interfacing for your finished project. Interfacings can be divided into weights and fusible/sew-in. Which one to choose depends on your fabric and your project. Some patterns will tell you whether or not to use fusible or sew-in but generally not which weight to use. Interfacing is a fabric that is applied to the wrongside of fabric to add stability, stiffen, strengthen, add body, or to help a fabric keep shape. When making pillows out of quilting cotton, I always add an interfacing to the back to help the fabric hold up and to keep a better shape. I also add interfacing when using Home Décor fabric to make a bag. It helps the fabric keep a structured shape and to also help it hold up to daily wear.

Weight: This is where there is the greatest choice among interfacings. There are 101 different weights (or so it seems). My rule of thumb is choose an interfacing that is directly proportional to your fabric. If you are using a lightweight fabric like quilting cotton, linen, or shirting, choose a light weight interfacing. Home décor projects are a heavier weight fabric and need a heavier weight interfacing. Interfacing Home Décor fabric ensures that window seat cushions last longer and look pretty and pillows keep their shape not matter how many times fluffed. The ultimate heavy weight interfacing is called Peltex. It is used in some of Amy Butler's luggage patterns and can also be used to make fabric storage. Peltex is really stiff and can stand on its own. It is great for adding a lot of body and structure.

interfacing peltex.jpg

Sew-in vs. fusible: Whether you use sew-in or fusible depends on the project and what you want to finished product to look like. Fusible will affect the drape and flow of the fabric. If you are adding pleats, tucks and folds, fusible is appealing since it will add structure to these details. If you are adding gathers or draping, sew-in adds the body and durability but does not affect the drape of the fabric as much as fusible. You can still play with the fabric and add less structured details.

Knits: Knits are such a wild creature that they have their own interfacing category. Knit interfacings are NON-WOVEN and somewhat elastic to mimic knits stretch. This allows the interfacing to add body and strength without distorting knits natural stretch and drape. Knit interfacing are typically around the neckline facings and other places that need some support like buttons holes and zippers.

Psst: The top picture if of Amy Butler's Modern Diaper Bag which used lightweight interfacing and Peltex for the bottom. The bottom picture is Peltex fused on to the back of quilting cotton and made into fabric magnets. Project found here!

Felt Pocket Advent Calendar- Free Pattern

December 1, 2010



1/2 yd 72 in. wide Craft Felt for background

6 sheets of 9 x 12 in. Rainbow felt cuts in several colors

16 in. wooden dowel

2 yds of Ribbon

Coordinating thread and embroidery floss

advent 25.jpg

Everyone loves a good (I mean GOOD) Advent Calendar and especially when you have kids. There is the token chocolate filled one I receive every year but that is just one chocolate. I wanted something big and full of pockets for my daughter. I dreamed of treat and candy filled pockets ready for sticky fingers every morning, excited to see what each pocket held. The Felt Pocket Advent Calendar was created to be fast and easy, with no hemming, little seaming and plenty of color. The pockets are a big 2.5 in. and all are hand embroidered with a different stitch, color and number for each of the #1-25 that is needed in an Advent Calendar. I made #25 extra special by cutting one square into a frame and stacking it on top of another. You could easily frame it in Rick-rack, ribbon, or felt flowers. Without hemming, this Advent Calendar is hassle free and a great nap time project but a little bit of a blank slate. You and your kids can pick some trimmings to make it yours and add some Christmas spirit. Felt Roses, Poinsettias, or Holly leaves come to mind. Don't forget you can print free coloring pages to use as Christmas stencils for your felt trimmings. If you opt to snazz up your Advent Calendar with embroidery, Sublime Stitching has some awesome pie, cake, and other food patterns that are perfect for bringing the joy of Christmas goodies to your Calendar! I am bringing out my copy to add on to my Felt Pocket Advent Calendar this year.

Advent Calendar.jpg

Don't forget to share your versions on our Facebook page!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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