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Handmade Valentine’s Day | A Lesson in How NOT to Sew

14 Feb

In my sewing frenzy, I decided that I’d have a handmade Valentine’s day and celebrate my love for my family by handmaking all our Valentine’s gifts and celebratory stuff.


My first piece of inspiration came from my big Reneissance Redwork Fat Quarter Bundle win from the Fat Quarter Shop

image from FatQuarterShop.com


17 Fat Quarters and a panel, more than enough to use to take my first stab at quilting.  Then I found a chevron quilt pattern that seemed easy enough on Pinterest, from Crazy Mom Quilts. Even though the directions clearly state the use of regular quarter yards of fabric as opposed to fat quarters, I figured that it would be fine to try anyway.

I started slicing and sewing and slicing and found that the white pieces of fabric were a hair longer than the red, which meant that the last square sliced was always wonky.

I sewed through 6 fat quarters and took an extended break.  When I resumed the quilt project, I thought that I had remembered the measurements correctly and began slicing and sewing away, only to realize that not only had I cut the squares to the wrong dimensions, but that I had also used the wrong seam allowance.


But I plowed on through the project and without rereading the directions, laid out the pieces of my quilt and began sewing my rows. I knew that there was some component that was to be done on the diagonal to make sure that the chevron pattern ran crosswise, but when I liad out my pieces, it seemed like my quilt would be awfully small if I cut on the diagonal, so I skipped that part and just let my chevron run diagonal. (as it turns out it was the sewing not the cutting that was done on the diagonal)

First I worked with the correctly sized squares and those made up pretty even zig zags.  But then I moved on to my incorrectly sized squares and it all went to pot.  Not only did my zigs stop zagging but I also had to sew such big seam allowances to fix the sizing issue, that I had far too much fabric waste for my own liking and my once huge quilt was suddenly VERY small.

At one point I had dreams of making a quilt for each girl and a doll quilt for each girl.  When I saw how small it was becoming, the quilt turned into a family quilt to be used to snuggle under on the couch.

I used the panel and some additional red fabric to make the back of the quilt, then sewed my batting between my layers and quilted all the zig zags.  Good lord did that take FOREVER.  Seriously forever and it doesn’t even look very nice.  Maneuvering the quilt at each turn and stuffing it through the arm was a total PITA.

But my quilt disaster was not to end there.  Because the final piece of a quilt is the binding.  Having run out of red or white fabric I opted to purchase ready made bias tape.  The selection at Wal-Mart wasn’t great so I settled for a navy blue (I wanted robins egg) and sewed the binding on yesterday.

But here’s where I screwed that part up….I completed the first pass of the 2 step binding attachement process only to realize that I hadn’t full unfolded it AND I had sewn down the corners improperly.  Thoroughly deflated with the whole process, I just pulled the tape up and over the edge and force sewed it on.

The whole quilt is horrible to me, but my husband and kids didn’t notice today when they were presented it.

I do not however, foresee me making any more quilts.


I saved a few fat quarters from the bundle to use to make a Valentine’s skirt for each girl.  I thought I could figure it out on my own, without a pattern, and perhaps document to add a tutorial to the blog since they’re in short supply here.

I got to work cutting and sewing and very soon realized that the skirts were gonna be uber short, and that sewing appliques is tedious and that perhaps there’s something to be said for all those applique tutorials and their recommended use of iron on stabilizers.  But I couldn’t be slowed down by such details and went on my merry way.

Luckily, I had leftover strips of white fat quarters to add some detail and length to the skirts via a waist band.  And then I made them too big in the waist so that they would sit lower and thus not appear as short.

Cute enough.

And free since that fat quarters were won.

The girls are happy with them too.


The piece de resistance to my handmade Valentine’s were to be their dolls.  Once again, I thought, who needs patterns, I can make one for these dolls, and photograph the whole adventure to post as a nice tutorial.

Once again…. WRONG!!

Details, details, details!! They’re to be the death of me. I swear.

I carefully drew my pattern pieces and cut them out.  I stitched up Isabelle’s doll first and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t pull the foot through the neck for the life of me.  A project that I thought I could finish in an hour was dragging into it’s third hour before I cried uncle and walked away.

When I returned, I pulled and tugged a little more and finally righted the doll.  Only to discover that I had sewn her pigtails up inside of her and that she’d popped a few seams in the struggle. Thankfully, my husband suggested that instead of clipping of her pig tails and reattaching them on the outside, that I simply, rip a few seams and pull them through.

It worked, I fixed her popped seams and stuffed the rest of her all up. She’s a little funky but she’ll do.  I altered the pattern a bit for Lelia’s,and was able to pull her legs through her neck for righting her without incident, but I decided that my pattern making and tutorial should be left for another project down the road.

The girls like their dolls, and they like the little touches each has, that were made just for them.

Lelia’s doll got a blue dress that matches one of hers, some red undies, and brown shoes because Lelia says she doesn’t like pink.  Her dolly got blonde hair and blue eyes to match Lelia.  While Isabelle’s doll is all pinked up, Pink hair and shoes, pink floral undies, and purple eyes with a dress to match her candy dress.




The Perfect Bag has Been Made!

21 Jan

I’ve been on a quest my whole life to find the perfect bag.  But what makes up the perfect bag is always changing so I’ve never found it.

Until now!

I’ve been collecting ideas on Pinterest. And making test bags and scouring my books, like Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders, One-Yard Wonders, BurdaStyle , Oliver + S Little Things to Sew, and looking at my Sweet Harmony Handbag and Tote pattern to gather pieces.

Requirements for the bag were as follows:

  1.  have a long cross body strap
  2. involves the Premier Prints ZigZag Yellow/White Fabric  from the Spring Chevron Coat
  3. exterior pockets to hold phone/keys/chapstick
  4. interior pockets to hold little things
  5. have pink somewhere on the exterior
  6. large enough to carry kid junk
  7. fit my ipad
  8. square or vertical rectangle shape
  9. not look dowdy or frumpy
  10. not be too large

Originally I thought more of a messenger bag style was what I was looking for but after creating the test bag, I realized that I wanted the bag to be able to be carried over the shoulder or on my wrist as well.  The cross body style is great for when I’ve got my kids b/c it’s easy to keep on while holding them.  But sometimes I just want to grab the bag and go. Also I needed smaller exterior pockets to hold the little stuff that I need to grab quickly without rooting through a whole bag or a deep pocket. As such, a complete overhaul was needed and I looked for some fresh perspective.

The lightbulb went off when I found this bag on Pinterest.

The Elessa bag from Milloo, image from Milloo on Etsy


It’s larger than I wanted to but the shape was right and the idea of side pockets instead of front pockets was perfect.

I had made side pockets with the Oliver + S Messenger Bag, and I had seen a pleated bag called the Folklore bag in One Yard Wonders. And so that pattern was the basis for my bag creation.

I added a zipper instead of a magnetic closure, and another interior pocket as well as exterior side pockets.  But the piece de resistance, was my brilliant (if I do say so myself) upcycling of the handles from my JPK bag! That gave me both of the handle lengths that I was looking for and added an element of pink.  To tie them in, I piped the yolk and pockets in pink as well.

The downer to the JPK handles is that the shorter handles have such thick leather that I had to hand sew them on, and the long, cross body handles are SCREWED into the fabric, so I had to do a little handiwork to affix them to the bag.

The Folklore pattern itself, was a BREEZE to sew.  There were only 4 pattern pieces plus the pocket to work with.  (If I had followed it exactly, I would have had to cut the straps too) And the pieces were all EASY PEASY to cut out.  The directions were clear as day and I bet I could have cut and sewn the exact purse in well under 2 hours.  Even with my additions it wasn’t very time consuming.  The zipper and the hand stitching were the hardest parts.

Now I can move on to MY own Spring Chevron Coat, I think I am going to take the Amy Butler Sandlewood Jacket pattern and turn it into a mid thigh length trench.  Either that or a collarless mid thigh coat that has 1 row of buttons.   What do you think?



Chevron Coat for Spring

17 Jan

Thanks to Pinterest, I now know that zig zag stripes are officially called Chevron. And I’m obsessed with them. So when I saw this coat in Old Navy, I knew I had to make one in a yellow and white chevron print for my girls.


This required two things, a pattern and the fabric.  Not only did I find the fabric, but it was also in a heavier weight which I wanted.  It’s from Premier Prints on Fabric.com.  And the pattern I found at the Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop, it’s the Oliva Pea Coat. The only change I made was to add the hood.  I traced a hooded sweatshirt and used that for sizing. It’s just two head profile pieces sewn together basically.

I’m in lurve with the coat!  And look, my photo skills are improving! As are my photoshop skills, which is equally important!


Test Bag

11 Jan

I worked all weekend making dresses for my girls, so I rewarded myself Sunday night by making something for me. I have been sketching a bag concept and pinning like crazy, to come up with my idea of the perfect bag.

This weekend I decided to test part of it to see how it turns out.  I took part of the Oliver + S Messenger bag from Little Things to Sew and part of the {LBG Studios} 2 in 1 convertible clutch and combined them to make this bag.  I used piping for the first time too!

I contructed this one properly, so there aren’t any exposed seams. I had to think about the construction and make sure I sewed everything in the right order.  Since I didn’t use binding, I had to sew right sides together, unlike with the Oliver + S Messenger bag.  There were no gussets this time around to get backwards, but I did have to remember which parts not to sew individually (like the flap) since you essentially sew two bags in order to construct a finished inside.

In the sewing journey, my lines are getting straighter, I can sew closer to the edge, and I’m really noticing an overall improvement in my skills.  It didn’t hurt that the project before this bag was the Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress, and Holy Details Batman!!

As far as the final product goes, I’ve decided I need to make some changes.  It needs to be a bit wider from front to back and I’d like smallish side pockets, as the front pockets are a hair taller than I’d like for my phone and chapstick. I’ll carry it around for a couple weeks and see how it feels otherwise.


Outside pockets covered by flap


Inside pocket

Inside full of stuff


Adjustable straps using buttons




Project Run and Play Junebug Dress Pattern Remix

5 Jan


Since I started on this sewing adventure, I’ve found many, many cool blogs.  Most are written by mom’s across the country and provide tutorials, patterns, how-to’s and lots of support and motivation to keep sewing and keep learning.

One of the coolest blogs that I stumbled upon was Project Run and Play.  It’s a play on Project Runway and the contestants are many of the bloggers that I now follow.  Season 3 kicked off this week and as a new twist, anyone can play along! The first week is a pattern remix.  They provided the Junebug Dress from Craftiness is Not Optional as the pattern, and to enter you have to put your own spin on it.  I decided to go for it and use it as one of the first dresses for Spring that I make for the girls.

I used a tiny floral print, and since I haven’t made too many dresses, I didn’t venture too far from the pattern. I added some ric rac to the top, and only put 2 buttons on instead of 3 per side.  I also made some pleats instead of gathers, and made the dress rather long. For a first time sew along and remix, I thought I did I nice job.

Then to enter, you upload your photos to the  Project Run and Play flickr group.  Let me tell you that my dress truly looks like amateur hour compared to some of the beauties that are included!  Alas, I’ve only been sewing for a couple months, so mine is good enough.

Isabelle got a black eye on a bunk bed this weekend, and then she applied a band aid to her neck overnight. A picture perfect model!




I love {LBG Studio} Patterns and Tutorials!

22 Dec

The fabric I ordered from Fabric.com arrived the other day and I was anxious to knock out a couple of the projects I had planned.  One was the {LBG Studios} Convertible Clutch / 2 in 1 bag pattern and the other was a revised wallet based off of the {LBG Studios} Organizer Wallet which I had used to make my little Christmas clutch.

I decided that I would sew the clutch first, because I thought I might learn a thing or two that I could apply to the wallet. The pattern and instructions were spot on! I installed a magnetic clasp for the first time and really enjoyed working on the project.  Sadly, I don’t love the way the copper pleather looks on the finished clutch, but that just means that I’ll be sure and make another clutch in the near future!

{LBG Studios} Clutch standing

I love, love, love, the sturdiness of the handle, and the way in which it was attached to the bag….brilliant! When all was said and done the handle has about 4 layers of fusible interfacing and 4 layers of fabric, making it incredibly sturdy.

{LBG Studios} Convertible Clutch handle

The inside called for a pocket and the insertion of a magnetic snap.  Who knew that adding a snap would be so darn easy!!! Seriously simple.

Inside of the {LBG Studios} Convertible Clutch


Folded {LBG Studios} Clutch


As you can see in the above photo, I need some practice with closing up the openings left for turning projects right side out…..

{LBG Studios} wallet inside of clutch

This bag had four layers to it: Outside, Inside, lining and facing.  Based on the finished product, I decided to go with 4 layers for the wallet, but to switch it up, outside, inside, and face both the outside and inside layers.  The pockets got 2 inside fabric layers and 1 piece of facing. I used 9″ as the width and 10″ as the height of the open wallet before sewing. Finished it’s about 8.5″ by 10.5″ finished.

closed wallet

I used this tutorial to figure out how to add in my zipper, and like every other sewing task of which I’ve been afraid, it’s not nearly as scary as it would seem!

Open wallet, everything in it's place

I liked the overall size of my Christmas wallet and while I had originally thought I would make a trifold to accomodate the zipper, I realized that I could just turn the outside of the iphone pocket into the zipper compartment.

Everything peaking out from it's hiding place

The other change that I made, based on my Christmas wallet, was that I decided there was enough room for 3 vertical card slots, instead of two, and that I wanted the curved pocket to also have compartments.  Now my credit cards fit in the back and my money, business cards, and license sit nicely in the front.

I love how much room there is for my receipt stash and I love the way it feels size and weight wise in my hand when I carry only the wallet.

I can’t wait to use both for Christmas, and I can’t wait to start on my next project! But that will have to wait until after Christmas.



{LBG Studios} Clutch and Wallet


Christmas Tree at the White House

22 Dec

This year, I let the kids do most of the decorating of the tree.  I gave them a few simple instructions an let them go nuts.

Decorating the Tree

Noodlebell watched from his perch in the window.


The main instruction was  to hang the bulbs first and to hang them in the tree as opposed to on the edge of the branches.  Right away Isabelle wanted to know who came up with the rule and why we had to follow it.  When I told her that that is what my mother taught me, she asked me if Lolly (my mother) would be getting a tree and following these rules.  When I told her that Lolly wasn’t getting a tree, Isabelle thought that was reason enough for us not to have to follow the rule: If Lolly wasn’t going to follow it this year, than why should we.

A whole host of ornaments can be found on the bottom branches of our tree

Once most of the ornaments were hung, I took a couple of the nicer ones and hung them at the top.  I also redistributed some of the ornaments so that the top of the tree wasn’t completely bare.

Lelia's candy canes

Playing with my camera's settings


I pinned a couple camera tutorials (exhibit A, exhibit B) for getting a shot of the Christmas tree at night, in which it looks like it’s glowing.  But no matter what i did, I couldn’t get it!


Here are some of our fancy ornaments

Big Santa




Pink angel crab


This is a Christopher Radko ornament that was given to us when we were married. One would assume by it's pink color that it's a cosmopolitan, however, it's got an olive as a garnish....always makes me wonder if it's a screw up by Radko...