Thursday
Apr162015

christmas in april?

If it looks like this, then YES PLEASE!

I am absolutely thrilled to show you a sneak peek of the lovely, adorable, and talented Elea Lutz' "Little Joys" ... her encore fabric line to "Milk, Sugar, and Flower".  You guys, this is off-the-charts cute.  Seriously.  It's happy, sweet, light, fun, nostalgic ... two thumbs up from me!  It will hit stores in June. 

(Wonder if you can guess which is my favourite print.)

Saturday
Apr112015

the mini pamela pouch ~ and a winner!

Maybe I should announce the winner first. 

Congratulations to Gail W who said, "My favorite color is yellow. I love the brightness, the pastel sweetness, and the sunshiney happiness. Truth be told, I also love gray because I figure it's a color that gets lonely, not favorited a lot. :)"  You won "Sweetly Stitched Handmades" by my dear friend, Amy Sinibaldi.  You have a lot of fun sewing projects in your future.

*     *     *     *     *

Ok.  So you know how I like little, right?  Ever since I was a kid I was drawn to small, tiny, cute, little things (brought to you by the department of the redundancy department).  Every once in a while, I find myself in the mood to replicate something I've made in miniature.  So let me introduce you to the Mini Pamela Pouch ...

(a little bow on the back)

Isn't she cute?

I tried to take photos that would show off how small she is.  I've had people see my things online and then see them for real and remark how much smaller they are in real life.

I think this little version took me longer to make than the larger one.  I remade the hexie flower 3 times - each time a little smaller - until it was just the right size.  And I found a font online called "Jane Austen" that I used for the embroidered word.  Love that.

Well, that's all I've got for you today.  Hope you're having a lovely weekend! 

PS:  I miss you!!!!  xo

Tuesday
Mar242015

giveaway - sweetly stitched handmades

Hey there!  I was chatting with my gal pal Amy the other day and guess what ... she asked if I'd "mind" doing a giveaway of her book.  Mind?  I'd LOVE to!  I've had my copy for a little while now and I can't tell you how many times I've looked through it.  Sometimes I read it, sometimes I puruse, sometimes I'm looking for inspiration.  But it's pure delight from cover to cover.

(Pouch I made a few weeks ago from the book.)

So I'm SUPER excited about offering you a chance to win your own, SIGNED-BY-THE-AUTHOR-HERSELF copy. :)

To enter, leave me a comment (not an email) telling me what your favourite colour is.  Simple as that.  This giveaway closes on Monday, March 30th and is open to all!

Thank you, Amy!

Sunday
Mar152015

sweetly stitched handmades

Life is fun when you have a very talented friend who writes a sewing book. :)  I managed to steal a few hours the other day to make a "simple zippered patchwork pouch" from Sweetly Stitched Handmades.  It took me longer to pull the fabrics than it did to make it! 

This case is everything you would expect from a nanaCompany creation - easy, quick, and adorable.  I'm super busy right now with, so even though I prefer the look of hand quilting - a love that Amy and I share - I cheated a little and machine quilted mine.  I cheated a bit more too with a pre-made label instead of a lovely hand-embroidered one.  Still, this pouch turned out pretty darned cute. 

Thank you, dear Amy!

Sunday
Mar012015

flower sugar apron

Remember this fabric?  And remember my daughter asked me to make an apron for her for Christmas?  Well, I did.  I didn't quite have it ready to put under the tree, but it was finished before the year ended.  It turned out great and my daughter LOVES it.  It's just taken me a while to convince her to model it for me. 

I made it without a pattern - it's basically fashioned after the traditional "chef's apron".  I used a white on white dot for the ties and facing.  I wasn't able to talk her into letting me use the newsprint fabric ... but she's only 11 and I made it for her so she got final veto power.

I had a pretty eyelet bedskirt on our queen bed for a long time.  When we upgraded to a king, I didn't want to get rid of it so I saved this trim.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it at the time, but when I was putting this apron together, I came across it in my sewing room and thought it would make the perfect little custom touch. Recycling at it's best. :)

Sunday
Feb222015

belated valentine's quilt, and subsequent impromptu peek inside my house (but just a little one so don't expect too much!)

I started this quilt 4 weeks ago.  I made the top in an evening (if you follow me on Instagram, you already knew that) and top-stitched/bound it the following weekend.  I just didn't get around to blogging about it until today, when I found some time to photograph it on my new oh-my-gosh-do-I-ever-love-you-so-much-where-have-you-been-all-my-life sofa. :)

I bought a 1/2 yard of all the pink and red prints from Tanya Whelan's "Petal" collection last year with the plan to make this quilt I found on Pinterest. 

I was going to make a big quilt for my bed.  But we recently upgraded to a king bed (husband is rather tall) and I didn't have enough of this fabric for a king quilt.  I was also inspired to make it last month for 2 reasons:  Valentine's Day was coming up and I was in the mood for some seasonal decoration, and my sewing cupboards are so full I figured that if I used up this fabric there would be that much less for me to fold, stack and store.

It's been ages since I made a simple, just-squares quilt.  I normally prefer smaller-scale prints, but "Petal" has such volumptuous prints that they beg for larger cuts to show themselves off.  I love this quilt.  It's the perfect sofa size and it's just the right amount of colour.  I wish I'd had enough left over to make little cushions for the gray chairs that flank the fireplace, but life will just have to go on without them. :)

Anyhow, while I was taking pictures of the quilt, I took a few more of the main floor of our house.  I know, I promised to show you all of the house and I still will!  It's just still not quite finished and furnished the way I want it.  (Still cardboard in the windows that require privacy, I'm embarrassed to admit.  The irony of someone who has a ton of fabric and no curtains is not lost on me, I assure you.)  But we're getting close ...

Our old dining set was a cute antique set.  And by cute I mean built for little people.  Not my tall husband.  He always looked so awkward on the little chair and lower than average table.  No one was ever really comfortable sitting there - except maybe the kids when they were smaller - and we NEVER lingered after dinner.  But our new dining set makes me deliriously happy.  We love hanging out there now.  It's beautiful, comfortable ... makes me feel like a grown up.  Between the dining set and the stately, traditional, tufted sofa, the style of the entire main floor has been elevated.  Plus I've wanted that oval/X-back chair for decades.  I'm not kidding.  I almost called this blog post, "I'm Bringing Ex-y Back"!  LOL!

Before you chide me for choosing a light upholstery for dining chairs, let me explain a few things:  I used microfiber, had them protected, got the extended warranty, and have emphatically threatened eternal dishwashing duty to anyone who dares to stain them.  So far, so good.

Ok.  Time to prep for the Oscars!  (And by prep I mean get into my favourite pjs, open the jumbo pack of Twizzlers - the red ones, of course - dump some chips in a bowl and claim the best spot on the sofa. :)

Tuesday
Feb172015

a new pattern ... the pamela pouch

I know.  It's been a while since I published a pattern.  But the stars aligned and ... it happened.

This pattern started over the Christmas holidays when I was overcome with a desire to make something - anything - using the navy prints colours from PamKittyGarden.  I haven't worked with navy for a very long time ... probably in the neighbourhood of 20 years.  But there's just something about this navy that was calling my name.

So I played around and came up with this ... 

It took all of about two seconds for my daughter to call dibs on it.

Such a rave review got me thinking about writing up a pattern.  So I made a second pouch - this time with the aqua PamKittyGarden suite. 

Oh how I love love LOVE this colour!

I tweaked a few things from the original prototype and came up with this ...

I'm calling it the Pamela Pouch because I wanted to name it after my good friend who happens to be the amazingly talented fabric designer behind the PamKitty collections that I love so much, and because I have a thing for alliteration.

It's only available as a PDF.  Click here to find it in my shop.  There are tons of step-by-step photos to help you along.

One other thing ... this pattern is F8th friendly.  Yep.  It only takes five F8ths to make (plus the notions) so it's great for using up small bits of coordinates.  But you don't have to make it all scrappy like I did.  You can easily use a single fabric for the whole thing.  It's up to you! :)

Saturday
Feb142015

because frogs eat flies ... that's a totally normal and valid consideration when deciding on an embroidery stitch, right?

Confession:  my husband and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day.  Don't get me wrong - we're not anti-holiday or anti-romance or anti-flowers/chocolate/candle-lit-dinner, etc. etc.  We just aren't inclined to doing that sort of thing on a prescribed day.  Besides, I'm the sort of girl that would rather get a few FQs than a dozen roses.  Flowers die.  Fabric is forever. ;)

However, that doesn't mean I can't say yes to a sweet friend's request to join a Valentine's Day Blog Hop, right?  When Mollie sent me her adorably cute love critters, I chose to do the quail.  She got me - I mean, that heart-shaped feather on her head?  Aaagh!  Had to stitch her.  So here she is if you'd like the PDF.

 But I showed Mollie's designs to my girls and asked which were their favourites.  That's how I ended up with 3 little stitcheries ... and then 3 mug rugs ... and then 3 convenient Valentine's gifts for my girls and ... me.  (By the way, I'm positive mug rugs were invented not because we quilters needed something to protect our tables from hot beverages, but because we needed something to turn our cute little blocks and things INTO ... am I right?)

Free Valentine Quail PDF

Oh, and one other silly little thing.  After I had the fabric borders sewn onto the mug rugs, the space around the animals looked a little empty, so I added stitched borders.  I did Mrs Quail first - a quick and simple running stitch.  Nothing fancy.  Easy enough.  But also a little ... mmm ... uninspired.  I could do better than that.

So then Miss Ferret got kisses (cross stitches).  It took a little more time, but I think it's way cuter.

Then I was really in an embroidery mood and I wanted to do something else for Miss Frog, but no particular stitch came to mind right away.  I scoffed at myself for a moment - I mean come on girl, you wrote an embroidery book once upon a time for heaven's sake ... THINK! 

Then I got it. 

The fly stitch, of course.

Why, you may ask?  Well ... because ... frogs eat flies. 

I'm not even kidding about that.  This is how my brain works.  I can't help it.

If you missed the other lovely blogs in this Stitch Love Blog Hop, here they are.  You can collect all 8 free patterns - courtesy of the lovely Mollie at Wild Olive.  I promise your hopping will be rewarded with all kinds of adorable inspiration!

On that note, Happy Valentine's Day!  And also happy stitching. :)

Sunday
Feb082015

little ... as in really little

Surprise!  I know - twice in two days!  :)

So we went to a really nice place for Sunday brunch over the holidays and there were these super duper teeny tiny wee little single-serving glass jam jars on the table.  (I may have walked out of the restaurant with a pocket-full ... or two ... of these jars.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Just sayin'.)

Anyhow, here's what I did with one of those jars.

Cute, eh?

I know, you'd think it's more cute than useful.  (Although - for the record - cute things are in and of themselves totally useful by their very nature, right?  How can you not smile when you see something that's cute because it's little?) 

It's true, the tufting on top is as high as I could make it without it looking dumb.  And long pins don't work well.  It's perfect for applique pins, though.  And I've put some tiny buttons in it.  I have been keeping my ring thread cutter in it because I'm always misplacing that little sucker - it fits perfectly inside the jar and the jar is way easier to find.  However - ironically - I took that ring out of the jar the other day and ... now I can't find it.  Again.

Go figure.

Saturday
Feb072015

for art's sake ... and a winner!

Another birthday gift for my daughter's friend.  It's a new pattern I'm working on. :)  It's almost ready to publish - just a few kinks to iron out. ;)

My daughter loved the prototypes I made, so she asked me to make another one for her friend - using some PamKittyGarden (lovely periwinkle!) - and thought it would be fun to add a little "art" label.  I've been spending quite a few quiet moment here and there enjoying my homegirl's new book, so I took this opportunity to try out one of her super cute ideas and tada!  (Normally I would have hand-stitched the patch on, but I kinda left this to the last minute and didn't have enough time ...)

Anyhow, stay tuned for the pattern for this little pouch.  It's fat-eighth friendly, by the way. ;)

*     *     *     *     *

Oh, and speaking of PamKittyFabric, I have a winner for the FQ bundle from Simply Sweet Fabric ...

Congratulations to Stephanie who said, "Definitely some cottage chic quilted placemats to send home to family in England :'( miss them all so much! I love to do little projects I can send frequently so they know I'm thinking of them. Beautiful fabrics!"

Isn't that just the sweetest?  Thank you again to everyone who played along!

Thursday
Jan222015

simply sweet giveaway ~ pamkittygarden!

Ok.  Who could think of a million things to make with this FQ bundle of PamKittyGarden from Simply Sweet Fabric?

Uh, ME!  LOL!

If you've got at least one idea and would like a chance to win this five-pack, please leave me a comment (not an email) sharing what you'd do with this fabric. 

This giveaway ends on Friday, January 30th and is open to all. :)

(Man do I ever love blogging!)

Sunday
Jan182015

three for three ...

It's pink, it's little, and it's made from Liberty (and Liberty-esque) prints.

It's actually a small-scale version of my round pencil case pattern.  I got it into my head that I wanted to try making the case as small as I could.  I don't think I'd try smaller.  You know ... just because.  It finishes at a diminutive 5" x 1.5". 

Yep.  I really do like little. :)

Sunday
Jan112015

from fabric to stitches

I see quilt and embroidery patterns everywhere.  I know lots of you see them too.  I had a lot of fun stitching up a little design I found in the Alice in Wonderland fabric a few weeks ago for my daughter's water bottle sleeve. 

So I did it again.

I made this hexagon flower by mistake (it turned out too large for something else) but I simply couldn't let it go to waste.  So I decided to make a pincushion.  They're fast and easy to whip up once (once all the hand work is done, that is).  This one finishes at a dainty 3.5" x 1".

Atusko Matsuyama has these cute little leafy/flowery/petaly things in the aqua fabric I used .  I knew they'd be easy to replicate with a few lazy daisy stitches and simple knots.  It only took me an hour or so to freestyle stitch the band to form the sides of the cushion.

I admit I didn't really like this cushion when I finished it last nite.  I dunno.  It didn't look like I imagined.  I think I was just tired because this morning when I popped it on top of that aqua cupcake stand (bought on impulse at Homesense in Canada - hoping I'd find a use for it on my blog some day!) I liked it a lot. :) 

Thursday
Jan012015

drink me!

I've wanted to make a bottle sleeve for a long time.  Funny.  I had no idea it would look like this!

My daughers are at an age now (11 and 13) where if I want them to like what I make for them, I need their input.  This is for my 11-year-old who offers certain challenges when it comes to collaborating.  The girl has a somewhat small reserve of patience so I can only hold her attention for a limited time.  Throughout this project, I didn't always know if she was agreeing with my suggestions because she actually agreed with me or because she just wanted to be done with this already.  No matter, we both love how it turned out.

I have to tell you, before we'd even picked fabric I had it in my head that it'd be fun to have a "Drink Me" tag on the sleeve.  This is for her water bottle that sits on her desk at school.  I may have gotten a little overly excited when she spied this Alice in Wonderland print in amongst my horrible mess of fabric.  Seriously.  The girl got hugged and kissed and high-fived a LOT. 

I did the embroidery on the sofa while us girls watched Mulan.  I had to stop stitching a few times to fulfil cuddle requests.  There are definitely worse things in life than having to choose between stitching and warm hugs.  I got the idea for the embroidery from a little detail in the fabric.  I've never been a fan of the backstitch, but this filigree detail is so small (1/2" tall) I had to use that stitch with a single ply. 

The bow?  Guess who wanted to add that ... ;)   I have a sneaking suspicion she agreed for my sake.

*   *   *   *   *

Hope your New Year is off to a good start.  Mine sure is!  I've been sewing up a storm here ... I even wore the plating off of a hand sewing needle today.  I can't remember the last time that happened.  Sure felt ... right. ;)

Sunday
Dec282014

in the pink

tap, tap, tap ... hello?  Is anybody there?

Geez, it's been so long since I was here I feel like I forgot how to do this!  Apologies for my too-long absence.  I've written two posts over the last little while explaining why I'm not around as much as I used to, but both turned into ramblings that bored me to tears.

The Coles Notes version is that I'm not a stay-at-home mum anymore.  After 12 wonderful years being home with my daughters, I went back to work full-time, over a year ago in fact, and ... well ... time is no longer a luxury for me.  It's also not that easy for me to find a creative spark when I do have a few minutes to myself.  And my sewing room is still a ridiculous gong show.  It's hard to find anything, I can't see my fabric (easily) ... ugh.  Not good.  I have some storage furniture on order so that should help.  The house is slowly coming together.  I promise I will show you when I'm proud of it.  Okay?

But I miss you.  I miss being here.  I miss making things.  But going back to the working world has been very good for me.  One can get too used to life in pajamas, I found out. ;)  Nothing like a professional wardrobe to make one feel human again.  But that's all I want to say about that ... except that for those of you who are curious, my job title is Technical Writer - much the same as it was before I was a mom.

So!  I've been on holidays this week and finally found some solid time yesterday to just plan, paw fabric, cut, sew ... and MAKE!

Oh, before I go on, I joined Instagram last month.  I've posted a few little things over there under prettybyhand if you're interested. :)

Yesterday I made a Tilda bag (see Instagram) and this sweetest little pink pincushion.  Honestly, if I was a colour, I'd be this ... Laura Ashley "Rose" from the 80s.   It's a diminutive 3" x 1" and stuffed with crushed walnut shells.  I don't really need another pincushion, but I do need to make things so I'm starting with small, quick projects to get back into the groove.

What are you guys up to?  Do tell.  I could use some inspiration. :)

I got the pins here!

Wednesday
Dec242014

merry christmas!

Monday
Dec012014

if you need to get your groove on ...

I heard this song today and can NOT get it out of my head.  It just makes me so happy!  I hope you like it too. :)

Saturday
Nov082014

what's black and white and cute all over?

My latest mad-dash, last-minute, rush-stitched birthday gift sewing project for my daughter's friend that I made with some of the fabrics I included in this FQ bundle. ;)  The invite only came in two days before the party though, so it wasn't my fault this time. ;)  Thank goodness these pouches are so quick and easy to make.

On that note, I always get requests for an English tutorial of this Chinese tutorial pin on Pinterest.  You know, was going to rewrite it in English for you.  But I had a few people questioning the ethics of doing so - copyright and all.  I felt a little uncomfortable thinking that maybe it wasn't right.  So I asked my lawyer.  He looked into it and assured me that translating the pin was perfectly legal.

But just because it's legal, doesn't mean it's cool, right?

It got me thinking.  How would I feel if someone took my tutorial and translated it into another language and posted it on the internet for everyone?  I admit that as long as the translator was courteous enough to link back to my original, I would be flattered and would appreciate the exposure.  If I post a free pattern on the internet, I do so with the hope that everyone who is so inclined can enjoy it, no matter what language they speak.

However, just because I wouldn't mind, doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't be bothered.  As much as I would love to help as many people as I could enjoy making this pouch - which was clearly intended to be used by the general public for free - I hesitate to write it out of respect for the author.

I hope you understand.

In the meantime, if anyone knows how I could contact the author to ask for permission, please let me know!  (It's a long-shot, for sure ... but this internet thing ... you never know!)

Sunday
Nov022014

flower photography practice

Wow is it ever a lot harder than I thought to take nice pictures of flowers.  But I'm going to keep trying (as long as I can steer clear of the drive-thru ... get it?  "Steer" clear?  LOL!  Oh I'm just so hilarious, aren't I.)

Never mind.

I wanted to show you my Halloween posy because it looks so much prettier, now that the carnations are opening and I took out one of the green mist stems.

But I couldn't bear to throw out that lonely stem so I found a tiny vintage medicine bottle and it fits perfectly.

I used another vintage vessel for the main bouquet too - a glass milk bottle that I picked up at a flea market a while back.  I haven't had much need for vases over the years and I like making do with what I have.  But I might start looking for a few more. ;)

I also had fun adding the spools of lace to the photos - because the green mist is part of the Laceflower family.  I dunno.  I just like doing that sort of thing.  It makes me happy.

Sorry no sewing stuff today.  Hope you like my flowers all the same.

Sunday
Nov022014

"pretty pairings II" ~ a fq bundle giveaway

This just never gets old ... being asked to put together a Blogger's Bundle of my favourite fat quarters.  This is the third time Pink Castle Fabrics has asked me to make one and it's definitely my best yet.  (Says me.)

Because I enjoy making small, quick projects with just 2 fabrics, I decided to choose another eight pairs if coordinating prints.  They are almost all designed by my beloved Japanese fabric companies - Lecien, Yuma, Kokka, etc.  They're fun, whimical, pretty, the scale is small ... makes my heart fabric-loving heart go pitter-patter.

My approach was to pick a whimsical print with a smaller coordinate.  I was particularly drawn to the Liberty-esque florals that I love so much.

This pair - of Lecien's Flower Sugar reinvented as a tea party and a newspaper print - makes me giggle a bit.  I was thinking it'd be fun to read the morning paper (or iPad/blogs) while enjoying a cup of tea.  When my daughter saw the tea party fabric, she begged me to please make her an apron out of it.  Excellent - one Christmas gift idea solved. :)

Cute little kawaii red riding hood kittens!!!

This faux patchwork is perfect for pencil cases and such, but I also thought the squares would be fun to fussy-cut and made into labels for larger projects.

Don't you just love charming translations from Japanese to English?  The above fabric reads, "I love the sweet cake and donut."  And below, "It is loved by everyone beyond the time."

Cute, cute, cute.

This bundle is available for purchase here.  FYI, stock is limited and the last few bundles I made for Pink Castle Fabrics sold out in about a week so if you don't want to be disappointed ...

But if you'd also like a chance to win it, please leave me a comment telling me if you've started on your Christmas sewing and if so, what you are making.  This giveaway closes Sunday, November 9th and is open to all!

PS:  If you're not doing any sewing for Christmas, that's ok.  You can still enter. :)