Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A New Must Buy Magazine and Hometown Hero

I was so excited to pick up a copy of the new magazine by Interweave Arts called Stitch "Creating with Fabric and Thread." I loved the skirt of the cover and I thumbed through the magazine eagerly for more. To my surprise and amazement, the cover skirt was designed by local designer Martha McQuade of Uniform Studio and the magazine included the pattern pieces so I can make it myself. JOY! HAPPINESS! I love Martha's work, and I loved a lot of the other ideas and patterns, too. Maybe I am easily impressed, but it seems like there's a huge void in the world of hip magazines with sewing projects that aren't quilts or clothes [solely] that this magazine is filling, and filling it very well.

This premiere issue of Stitch has a ton of great project ideas and resources, so I'm hoping Interweave makes it a monthly thing. If it does, I hope Santa can deliver it to me every month of 2009. Whadda ya think, Santa?

P.S. Crafty Planet is having a big sale on fabric right now, so drop by and pick up this magazine and a few yards, too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Today on the Radio: Pumpkin Girl!

If you're near a radio today from 11 to 12 p.m. CT, check me out on the show "Conversations with Al McFarlane" on KFAI. They're interviewing me and Sarah from Charlie and Sarah about the upcoming mega craft sale and monster truck rally, No Coast Craft-o-rama.

By the way, if you're planning to come to No Coast this year, plan to be there for the Craft-a-thon at 2 p.m. on Saturday. This is my brain-child of the year, and I'm really excited to see it come to fruition. There are four teams crafting against each other for some really amazing prizes. The celebrity panel of judges was just increased by one -- Kelley Deal from the Breeders / Kelley Deal 6000! Seriously!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vintage Elf Stocking

I just can't get enough of making Christmas stuff. I designed this elf stocking to hold just a few great stocking stuffers, like some colored pencils and a cool vintage-style Martha Stewart ornament I bought last week. It was a really easy pattern to come up with. I like that the felt snowflake modernizes it just a bit.

Yes, I know, it's not even Thanksgiving yet. But did I mention how much I love Christmas? I think of Thanksgiving as the Christmas kick-off weekend. When it's no longer weird of me to be making Christmas stockings any more. I am anxiously awaiting it!

Got any good holiday inspiration this year? I'm inspired by my friend's work on the Juicy Couture holiday window. How'd she get the f*^&ing awesome job?!?!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter Sunrise in Minnesota

Yesterday the sun came up in Minnesota in what my mom would call a typical "Sailor's Take Warning" sort of way. Big, beautiful and full of purples, pinks, blues and reds. I wished I didn't have to rush off to work, but I managed to snap this shot off our deck before dashing for the bus.

Speaking of the bus, today was a particularly irritating ride. The enjoyment started with a sort of comedy of errors in which a man with a backpack got on and didn't realize that a steady stream of water was coming out of the water bottle stuck in the side. A passenger informed him of the problem and he, like a dog chasing his tail, did several turns around and around while a woman with a stroller tried to get on the bus. It took another passenger (now two passengers are helping) to take the water bottle out before the issue was resolved and the water bottle emptied outside. It just went downhill from there.

In brighter news, I got an email that my new holiday fabric is on it's way. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I also got a flyer for a big sale at Hancock's over Thanksgiving. Yipppee!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Martha Stewart Ornament Shopping

My grandma was a HUGE K-Mart fan back in the day. In fact, I have very fond memories of loitering there with her in wait for the much-anticipated loudspeaker announcement of the next big blue light special item. It usually went something like, "Attention K-Mart shoppers! For the next 20 minutes ladies plus size polyester Hanes underwear are 25% off! Head on over the Ladies Intimate Apparel to take 25% off today!" Off we'd rush, no matter how lame the sale item was, and stock up. Grandma Betty's philosophy was that a sale item was a must-buy, and some day you'd have a need for it. I guess that explained many a strange Christmas gift. But, I never really cared much, because I knew her secret.

My mom and I shopped there, too. I specifically remember these white tennis shoes my mom bought me there. It must have been in elementary school. They were so cool when they were bright white, but the faux leather got dirty and brown so fast and then they looked really gross. So we'd buy this shoe cleaner stuff there and try to polish them up. I think they might have been high tops with little "air vent" holes on the top. Boy, they were super ugly. But I know I went through several pairs of them, so they must have been stylish at the time. Or not.

Luckily, I tracked down a K-Mart store last weekend when I was really missing Grandma B. I thought it'd bring back memories to head over there and see what sort of deals they had going on. Much to my delight and amazement, Martha Stewart holiday stuff was on sale, so I scored big time. I left with about $50 worth of other random crap, too. I did Grandma proud.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pleated T-Shirt Shoulder Bag Tutorial

A while back, I wrote about a bag I reconstructed out of an old Phillies tee shirt. I promised I'd do a tutorial. Well, I haven't gotten around to it until now. Better late than never, right? I love this project because I have a lot of tee shirts that are beginning to take out their own personals ads: "I'm a little on the large size, but there's so much more to love. I've seen a lot of livin' but I think there's a lot more livin' to do! Let's start a new life together!"

I'm happy I found a way to repurpose them. The bag is made up of three components: the main section, the top band and the strap. The photos are not the greatest, but I think you probably get the idea. Here are the steps for making your own Milli Vanilli tee shirt bag:

Step 1: Cut out the pieces
a. First, cut off the bottom 5" of the shirt
b. Then, remove the hem from the bottom of the shirt
c. Cut off the sleeves and neck

Step 2: Create the pleats on top
a. Fold over an inch or so from each side of what's now the top of the bag to form a pleat
b. Do the same on the back, but rather than fold over, fold under
c. Pin in place and sew

Step 3: Sew up the main section of the bag
a. turn the tee shirt inside out
b. Pin along the bottom of the shirt/bag
c. Pin along the sleeve edge
d. Stitch across bottom and sleeve edges, forming the main section of the bag

Step 4: Create the diagonal corners for the bag bottom
a. With the bag still inside out, measure up from the bottom of the bag three inches and mark with a fabric pencil
b. Do the same for the side by measuring in 3 inches from the side of the bag and marking
c. Sew a straight line between your two marks
d. Trim off excess fabric triangle

Step 5: Create the top band
a. Using the bottom edge of the tee shirt that you removed in step 1, cut a length that measures roughly double the width of the top opening (mine ended up about 5" X 18")
b. Fold in half so that you can pin and sew along the short side
c. Fold the piece in half so that the seam you just sewed is on the inside
d. Sew band

Step 6: Attach band to top of bag
a. Pin the band to the top of the bag on the right side
b. Sew all the way around the top of the bag
c. Flip band up and press seam toward bag

Step 7: Cut out and sew the strap
a. From the remaining portion of the bottom of the tee shirt, cut a piece that measures 5" by 27"
b. Fold the piece in half the long way; pin and sew along long edge
c. Turn the strap outside in and press so that the seam is centered

Step 8: Attach the strap
a. Pin the strap, seam side facing in to either side of the bag, centering
b. Sew in place by sewing a rectangle 1/4" from the top of the band

And there you have it! It's a project that will probably take you an hour to make, but can be a very simple and fashionable market bag or tote for you to use for many more years to come!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spoonflower Front Page!

Remember when I was so tentatively at dipping my toe in the pattern design waters? No more! I just found out Spoonflower is featuring my design front and center on their redesigned home page. I have to say, I'm quite honored! The Flickr pool of Spoonflower designs is so amazing, I can't even believe that they chose me.

Now that I'm done gaga-ing over that, it's back to crafting! I just ordered a TON of holiday fabric, so stay tuned. The Christmas tunes are already on around's so much fun!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Want to Win Big? No Coast Craft-a-thon Need YOU!

So a while back I had this crazy idea. What if at our big craft sale we had a contest pitting crafters against each other in a timed battle to see who could come up with the craziest, baddest craft project and win some awesome prizes? To take it even a step further toward a total MacGuyver smackdown, I thought that the teams should have to create the project out of junk. I mean, not true junk, but stuff we have just laying around.

Everyone liked the idea, so we got some awesome prizes. Janome sewing machines. Magazine subscriptions (cool magazines, too!). Gift certificates. Fame. Fortune. But, there's a rub. No teams have signed up to win the prizes. None. Nada!

I'm asking you to spread the word. This is going to be incredibly fun. We have some local celeb judges and MC and some great supplies for the teams to use. It only takes an hour and the prizes really do kick ass. AND, it costs nothing to show up and try. C'mon, folks. Step up!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Holiday Crafting Has BEGUN!

It's official! The holiday crafting has begun. Lately I've been loving the silhouette trend. Actually I've loved it for a LONG time. My parents had silhouette portraits of both my sister and I and I always thought they were cool (albeit a little cheesy). When I found a really great profile shot of one of my nieces (real name changed to protect the innocent), I knew it was my opportunity.

This project has been blogged in many varieties and mediums and final outcomes. I love this one from Inhabitots on making a custom silhouette tee of your kids. Also great is this one on Design*Sponge for making framed versions of custom silhouette art of your kids. I guess I'm a little late on my trendspotting, because back in 2007 Cookie Magazine had a write up about the silhouette trend and featured some awesome artists who will do the work for you (dog? cat? kid? couple? YES!). If you use Illustrator, you can even find a YouTube video on how to make a silhouette like in the iPod commercials. Wow.

I'm pretty lo-fi with my technology, so I used my old school Microsoft program to create a "cutout" of the image of my niece, then I selected a fill color (pink). Then I added an oval shape in the background and some text and done. Simple, but I think it turned out cute and my niece will think it's cool. I hope! Only 527 more gifts to go!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Popover, It's Nice Here in Minnesota!

It's the weekend after Halloween here in Minnesota and Global Warming is upon us! It's actually HOT outside. Whereas in years past we may have had a blizzard, this year I took off my jacket and opened up the windows (the same ones I put storm windows on just yesterday...bad timing!). We took the opportunity to drive to one of our favorite places in this neck of the woods: Stillwater.

As for what we actually did on Halloween, I have to say not much. We dressed Baby P up in an engineer outfit (all we had to buy was the hat) and handed out candy. Maybe 10 kids showed up in total. Everyone liked the decor outside, but one little tot wouldn't come near the door so she made her sister do her dirty work. Of course I was kind of snotty and said "Where's your costume?!" and then felt like crap when I saw the little kid out on the sidewalk, afraid to come up. Luckily this year we weren't visited by any other costume-less kids, cuz that drives me a little insane. I mean how many "rappers" (their words, not mine) does one Halloween need? I guess rap is dead this year, because none of them came here.

Anyhoo, not doing much baking right now, maybe due to the heat. I did make some popovers a few weekends back that were out of this world good. I can't believe that growing up I actually thought popovers were gross. I must have been out of my mind. Baby P didn't think they were gross. He ate two!

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween's Over, So's My Pity Party

I usually try to mask my true feelings as much as possible on my blog (kidding). Seriously though, I think it's a little weird to just "let it all hang out" when I have no idea who might see it all hangin out and later make fun of me for it. But, today I'm breaking loose and letting go. Today I'm saying goodbye Halloween, goodbye pity party. I need to say goodbye to something so I can start to move on.

You see, I've been having a pity party for myself since last year at about Halloween time. I pitied myself for having to go back to the cruel, ugly working world after giving birth to baby Pumpkin and staying home with him for the first three months. The days leading up to going back to work were awful. The worst was the night before I had to go back. It was Thursday, and my husband wasn't home that night. After baby P went to bed, I sat on my floor and sobbed. I caught my breath long enough to call mom and dad and bawl to them for an hour or so. I felt like my life was literally ending. It was the worst, most heartbreakingly sad night of my entire life so far.

Then, I had to get up the next day, get dressed and head into the office. I cried on the bus. I cried at my desk. I cried on the bus all the way home. And honestly, I've been crying for a year. Off and on, I cry. Sundays are the hardest, when I start thinking about going back to work.

My well-meaning friends have suggested lots of different ways of looking at the situations and my options. Get a different job. Work fewer hours. At least he isn't in daycare. Start a work at home business. Send the hubby back to work. Generally I'm all for taking the bull by the horns and not sitting around moping. I mean, moping should have its place, but should be followed by action. So I did get another job. Still, I wanted to mope. I was still not happy. Not really.

Here's the deal. I wanted to be hired for the job of stay-at-home mom. I was good at being a mom even though it was new and scary. My kid was happy and we had fun. I got dinner made. The house was clean. I didn't have to think about PowerPoint presentations. I didn't have to iron my slacks. I didn't really have a boss.

It was the best job I've had so far. It wasn't and isn't about getting a few more hours with my kid (not that I don't want that, but it just isn't the true problem for me). It was and is about having a job I loved and getting laid off from it. I got laid off, and the job I found, I didn't really like. Plus, my husband quit the job he kind of liked and hours that were pretty flexible. A recipe for a year long pity party, if you ask me. It all felt horribly unfair. We made a decision based on money, and what we thought was best for all three of us at the time.

So, in retrospect, I may have made a different decision a year ago if I had known that I'd spend all year pouting. But, my husband is an awesome stay-at-home dad, and I couldn't take that away from him. It's true that at least one of us gets to be home with him. Lots of people don't have that luxury. And maybe someday, I can switch spots. Who knows.

That's why I decided to end the pity party. I'm not going to switch places with Mr. P right now, and I'm not going to quit my job. We're lucky we have my job. Baby P is happy, and that's what matters. It's been a year of pitying myself, and frankly, I'm really freakin tired of it. Of course I'm sure there will be days when I am wishing I was wearing jeans and traipsing through the zoo with my kid rather than holding back-to-back conference calls in my tan cubicle, but I'm not going to let it ruin my life, my marriage or anything else.

Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to usher in my new attitude. I'm thankful for so many things, I just have to remind myself how truly lucky I am. Thankful I have a job. Thankful my husband is so great. Thankful my kid is happy and healthy. Thankful we have a nice house. So many reasons...

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Feels good to purge it. Now back to the regularly scheduled sarcasm and crafting projects...

Did I tell you about my new favorite phrase? It's "steppin' out". Used in a sentence: "I got some new jeans today, and they're not for the office, they're for steppin' out." Now, let's hope I can get some opportunities for steppin' out real soon. You do any steppin' out this weekend?