December 27, 2011

Sparkly Cuffs

Ah, the Christmas season lingers and after the cookies have been eaten, the presents unwrapped and now sit there staring at you...patiently waiting for you to put them away, what is a girl to do? Surf the internet of course and find wonderful, sparkly handmade items that are so impressive that it puts my small handmade goods to shame. I'm a little obsessed with cuffs right now and so I stumbled upon Dolores Petunia on Etsy and these cuffs are simply gorgeous as well as being totally custom.  Artist Courtney Price builds elaborate jewelry, headpieces and sashes that make me wonder "how did she do that?". I can just imagine myself in a little black dress with one of these beautiful pieces sparkling on my arm! I've featured my favorites below!

#1 Custom Spiderweb Cuff 
I love the shape and how delicate it is even with all of the volume.

#2 Custom Cuff - Orchid
I especially enjoy this one because of the stunning orchid set into all the sparkle. Orchids are the only plants I can keep alive, and this one is no different!

#3 Custom Cuff - Ruby
I love the little pops of color here and there and that ruby red is a perfect winter shade with grey.
All photos courtesy of Dolores Petunia


December 19, 2011

Grey Chevron Baby Blanket

Grey zigzag

I know what you're thinking: "Finally, she makes something grey! Isn't that the point of this blog?"  (At least, I'm sure that's what my dad is thinking. He always says "But that's not grey." Thanks Dad.)  Anyway, I love this baby blanket that I knitted, and it couldn't be more grey.
Grey zigzagGrey zigzag

The pattern is the Chevron Baby Blanket from The Purl Bee.  Chevron, zigzag -- whatever you call it, it's lovely and so easy to knit.  The Purl Bee made it in "a delicate spectrum of natural colors."  I made it in alternating heather grey and variegated grey and white using my favorite yarn for baby blankets, Bernat Softee Baby.

Grey zigzag

I enjoyed making this blanket, especially how quickly it knitted up on size 11 needles. The finished size is approximately 26x36 inches (mine's a little longer than the pattern version). I like this blanket so much that I immediately started another one in a different color combo. After I took this photo, though, I'm not sure if the rose is the best pairing with the variegated yarn, and I'm debating tearing it out and using pale yellow instead. I'd love to hear your opinion -- Should I change the color and start over?
Grey zigzag and peach in progress

December 18, 2011

Owl Ornament (inspired by Crate & Barrel)

I like Crate & Barrel, and they returned that affection this year by sending me what seems like 50 holiday catalogs. I keep flipping through them, thinking that there might be something in this one or that one that I haven't admired yet (there isn't). After repeatedly stopping on these button owl ornaments, I came to the conclusion that I could make them myself.  So I did.  Well, one at least.

Scrappy owl ornament

This little guy is modeled on the one in the center of the C&B trio.  I used the snipping tool on my computer to clip that picture, and when I printed it the owls were enlarged, which worked for my purposes.  I made templates from the printout, traced them onto some plaid flannel and wool felt, and added a few buttons and some blanket stitching.  I think the resemblance is pretty decent.

I made this ornament for the IMQG handmade ornament exchange and was so happy when it went to my friend and colleague Lindsay, who blogs at ellesquare (and sells at -- you're welcome LL). The great thing about exchanging handmade ornaments with crafty people is that you know they appreciate the time spent on your creation!

December 17, 2011

Sending Christmas Cheer with Iris Folded Cards

Iris paper folding

A little while back my friend Susannah sent me info on an iris paper folding/card class at a branch of the library nearby and asked, "Do we want to try this?" We hadn't heard of this iris folding before, but the notice said we'd make 2 holiday cards and the fee was nominal, so we decided to give it a go.

Iris paper folding

Although we skewed the average age of class attendants considerably, it was fun to learn a new craft -- especially one that looks far more complicated and difficult than it really is. (Isn't that the best kind?) Instructor Susie Fintz guided us through the cardinal first, and it was a rousing success if I say so myself. Susannah and I had to leave early, so we took the kits for the angel cards home and I made this one on my own. (That's why it's lacking some of the fancy sticker bling that the cardinal has, but I think it still looks nice.)

Iris paper folding

The cardinal went to my parents and the angel to my co-blogger/sister Jen and her husband. I've heard rumors that the cardinal will be framed to be enjoyed every Christmas. (Glad you like it Mom!)

December 3, 2011

Sewing Project: Zipper Pouches with Pleats

First zipper pouch

A while back I found a tutorial for a simple, small zipper pouch with a few pleats for interest. I filed it away with all the other tutorials I stumble upon that make me think "Oh! I have to make that!" -- a thought that quickly leads to "And I can make a whole bunch of them and give them as gifts!"  I'm misguidedly eager and ambitious when it comes to crafts, and usually I end up just turning out one supposedly amazing item before I either a) lose interest, or b) realize this supposedly amazing item is way more trouble than it's worth due to difficulty or poor instructions.  So this is an exception worth mentioning.

peek inside

I made this rosy pouch to send to my sister for her birthday, along with some new crochet books to help her expand her menagerie.  It requires a small amount of fabric and a 7-inch zipper -- I have plenty of fabric, so the investment is only around $2 for the zipper and some time.  Aaaaand that's what led me to this:

Zipper pouches

One of these pouches will go to a holiday auction and the other may make its way into a Christmas gift.  The one on the left is lined in the grey dot, and the one on the right is lined in the turquoise dot.  I made these last night, and after struggling with the turquoise one, I finished it and whipped out the grey one in record time, so I guess practice makes perfect.
After making 3 pouches, I still have some issues with the design/tutorial, but it's unlikely anyone else would notice the flaws I see.  And so I may make more...or I may move on to the next greatest tutorial ever -- and make a bunch to give as gifts!

November 20, 2011

Love this ... Rag Quilt for Baby

Both Elizabeth and I have made these rag quilts for friends in the past and received rave reviews. Elizabeth originally sent me the link to Beverly's, where you can get the instructions, but I've embedded the instructions here for you. The best thing about this quilt -- other than how easy it is -- is how much fun you can have picking out fabrics. I've turned these quilts into my go-to projects for rainy days because it does take quite awhile to cut all the squares of flannel and batting. I would recommend the Warm and Natural® batting just because it doesn't feel plasticy when you're working with it. I haven't had any trouble with it shifting around and it's actually quite affordable at JoAnn's when you keep an eye out for the combination of "on sale" and coupons.

As for colors, the video example uses a fabric collection, however in my town, finding a full collection of compatible flannels is fairly impossible without spending a mint to order online. What I've done is gone a little outside and made the fabric choices my own, with my own rules. I will usually find a print I really like (note the aliens) and then look for a polka dot, stripe, small print or plaid in the same color family. My quilts end up a little more colorful (mostly because I'm not a baby blue and pink kinda person).

Would love to see your versions of this, post them to our flickr site to share.

November 14, 2011

Self-zipping Coin Purse

Self-zipping coin purse

While browsing a favorite blog, How About Orange, I saw this post about a self-zipping coin purse.  The project originates in this tutorial from Craft Passion, and those are the instructions I used.  I'm not sure what made me think I could actually create this geometric wonder -- it even looks complicated in the tutorial, and those folks knew what they were doing! -- but once I made up my mind, I was off to buy a zipper and coordinating ribbon.  (My purse went unlined -- after a few attempts at hand-sewing lining along the ribbon on the inside, I wasn't happy with the results and I couldn't keep the lining from interfering with the zipper action.)  Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the purse unzipped, but trust me, it does unzip all the way around and around and around.

I bought a pair of earrings at a local Fair Trade shop and tucked them inside this little purse to send to a friend in Texas for her birthday.

(Admittedly, I didn't discourage Jack's curiosity during my little photo shoot. I needed something to show scale, so why not the cat?)
Curious cat

November 13, 2011

DIY Project: Extra marble tile transformed into coaster

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I like to reuse items in new ways especially when it saves money. A couple of years ago when we moved into our house we splurged on some Pier 1 wooden coasters which started to warp from the moisture within six months. Not really wanting to purchase new ones I started keeping an eye out and realized we had leftover marble tiles from the installation of our backsplash.

Our tile installers had purchased 12" tiles and cut them into quarters as "decorative" elements on the backsplash and they match our countertop so it looks lovely and better than just plain large tiles. Apparently they had cut an extra tile because I found four leftover squares on a dusty garage shelf. I cleaned each tile and then added clear scuff protectors to each corner to protect the tabletops.

I think you could easily do this at home if you had a spare tile and a tile cutter, or a neighbor who has a tile cutter. The great thing about marble is that it absorbs moisture and I haven't had any rings or moisture marks on the furniture. The scuff protectors run about $2 a packet at Home Depot and are made to protect walls from picture frames.

I think these would be great housewarming gifts or raffle items in a gift basket with some glasses. I may have to go root around in the garage and see if I could find a few more...always good to think about these items when you've got Thanksgiving guests planned.

November 6, 2011

Summer House Baby Quilt (in progress)

Summer House baby quilt in progress

I've been sewing like crazy trying to finish two quilts intended for Christmas gifts, but when a friend asked me to make a baby quilt that she could give as a gift, I couldn't say no.  We've been working out all the details via email -- I sent her some possible patterns and a link to see a fabric charm pack that I already had and didn't have a particular plan for.  Luckily, she loved the fabric and picked a pattern that will highlight the bright florals, stripes, and dots in Moda's Summer House line. The photo above shows my progress after a couple of hours of work yesterday.  My "client" asked to have the baby's name embroidered on the front, so that will go in the bottom right corner.

Working backwards, the photo below shows the quilt top during the first round of assembly, as I sewed the vertical sashing strips between each print block. I was happy to find Summer House yardage at one of my local quilt shops, saving me an online order and shipping charges in order to buy fabric for the backing and binding, and the ladies at the shop helped me select the light aqua and white dot for the sashing. I was hoping that I wouldn't have to settle for a plain off-white solid for the sashing, and the aqua is a perfect fit.  (It's a little hard to see the aqua in these photos -- I'll try for a better photo next time.)

Summer House baby quilt

October 31, 2011

Fabric Fun: Swapping Yellow, Aqua, & Gray

Charm Swap

A colleague of mine and fellow member of the IMQG is also co-creator of Craft Buds, a site that collects all sorts of craft-related content (tutorials, giveaways, interviews, and even the 4-1-1 on creating your own craft biz) and brings it together for one-stop shopping.  When Lindsay posted that Craft Buds was joining forces with an online fabric shop to sponsor a swap of yellow, aqua, and gray charms (translation: 5-inch fabric squares), I had to join in the fun.

If you haven't heard the news, fabric swaps and virtual quilting bees abound in the online quilting/sewing world.  I've never joined one, being a little nervous about expectations and working under deadlines; but this swap only involved
  1. Buying 1 yard of fabric in any combination of yellow, aqua, and gray
  2. Cutting it up into 5-inch squares
  3. Dropping said squares in the mail to be combined with 27 other swappers' squares
  4. Sitting back and waiting (im)patiently for my mixed-up charm pack to show up in my mailbox 
Not too difficult, so I figured I could handle it.  I tried so hard to find gray fabric that I liked and wanted to swap, but to no avail.  Finally I settled on the Moda Hunky Dory print you see above.  You can scroll here to see what I'll be getting in return.

October 28, 2011

Urban Decor: Downtown Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh mural

Jen and I were in Pittsburgh last weekend for a wedding in the family (congrats Lauren & Neil!), and while exploring the area around our downtown hotel, we came across this great mural.  Jen's reaction: "Take a picture! Blog it!"  So here it is, in all shades of grey, purple, red, and turquoise.  The scale is pretty impressive (see the folks in the lower left?) and the design is both retro and futuristic.  Much more interesting than a big, blank brick wall, no?

October 24, 2011

When the Fork ran away with the Spoon and the Knife!

Recently I was at a children's consignment sale at a local church because I believe in recycling and reuse, especially for children's toys that they grow tired of so quickly. My mom and I were wandering around the toys and book tables when we found this adorable, soft activity book. These are great, quiet toys to pack for traveling, so I picked it up for all of 50 cents. All the pieces were there except the fork, knife, and spoon for the place setting page. I figured I could fix that for 50 cents, so last night while watching one of my favorite classic movies (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) I started forging my felt silverware. Once I was done with the knife I held it up to show my husband who promptly said "I don't think knives are good for kids." Granted, he didn't have his glasses on, but once I explained that they were made out of felt between giggles, we were both laughing.

Felt silverware directions

Wool felt scraps
Warm and Natural batting
Thread and needle
Pattern (see link)

1. Cut out 2 of everything (including batting)
2. Trim batting so that there is a 1/8" allowance between the felt and batting.
3. Sandwich the batting pieces between the front and back of each silverware piece and pin.
4. Blanket Stitch around each piece. You could sew these on the machine too, whatever is easier.
5. Add embellishments with a Sharpie permanent marker.

October 15, 2011

Fall Recipe Idea: Swedish Meatballs

Every once in awhile I see a recipe and think "Wow, that would be good," but it never seems to happen before a trip to the grocery store. Today it did for once, so the hubby and I had an excellent afternoon of college football followed by delicious "Almost Famous Swedish Meatballs" from Food Network magazine. Now, the magazine described these delicious balls of yummyness as a copycat recipe from the IKEA store. I honestly can't remember the last time I had IKEA Swedish meatballs, so I'll have to take their word that they are similar. What I do know is that they are delicious.

Since they passed my test, I leave you with the following comments
1. If you have people coming over and you don't want to spend a ton of money on meat  (it adds up!), give the Swedish meatballs a try.
2. If you enjoy meatballs in general...make them. We tossed extras in spaghetti sauce the next day and they were great.
3. If you want to snack on food, say, during a football game, try the meatballs as they are very appetizer-y.
4. If you don't want to spend all day in the kitchen for "comfort food," these were quick and easy (I skipped the refrigeration step in the recipe).
5. I'm not sure if it helped, but I will divulge that I ate the aforementioned meatballs with my "Dragon" silverware from IKEA.

October 9, 2011

Big Finish: Habitat Fabric Challenge Pillow Cover #1

Habitat fabric challenge, pillow front

A few months ago my Indianapolis Modern Quilt Guild joined a challenge sponsored by FreeSpirit fabrics to promote the Habitat line designed by Project Runway winner Jay McCarroll.  I decided to toss my needle and thread into the ring and received a complimentary package of Habitat fabric.  For my first quilting challenge, I was more comfortable working on a small-scale project, so I turned to Oh Fransson's Chopped Vegetables patterns for pillow covers.  I separated some of the darker prints, added an eggplant purple solid from my stash, and picked up a grey zipper for the closure on the back side.  Now that I've finished this first pillow cover, I'm more motivated to make a coordinating one, pairing the lighter Habitat prints with a grey solid.  Stay tuned...

Habitat fabric challenge, pillow back

**For the record, this is only my second attempt at a zipper, so I'm pretty amazed at how well it turned out.  For anyone who thinks I don't give myself enough credit for what I make, trust that I'm oh-so-proud of my zipper.

October 3, 2011

Sweet Reader

As an editor, I basically read all day.  A hefty percentage of that reading is not always particularly fun or interesting to me personally, so I always have a stack of books and magazines at the ready to read for pleasure when I can.  That's why this mini-quilt in the book Pretty Little Mini Quilts caught my eye.

Pretty Little Mini Quilts

Some projects turn into a personal challenge, and this is definitely one of those.  The book had instructions but no pattern, so I struggled to try and make my version resemble the one in the book.  (Who would have thought something no bigger than 8x10 inches could cause so much frustration!)  In the end, I think I like mine better, especially the book cover and sliver of pages peeking out along the top edge.  I'm considering hanging it in my work cube to remind me that there's fun reading in my future.

Summertime reading

September 27, 2011

Super Scarves

Super Scarves 1 

Football fan or not, if you live in Indianapolis as I do, you can't help but be aware that the city is hosting Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. Soon after the City of Indianapolis won its bid to host the big game, I heard about the Super Scarves program. The goal is to outfit over 8,000 volunteers and hospitality employees with hand-knit or crochet scarves in Colts blue & white. The current count is up to 8,432 scarves! I told my mom about the project and she thought it would be a fun break from all the sock knitting she does for orphanages. And after she finished her scarf, I decided I might as well make one too, not only because I've called Indy "home" for 9 years now but also because she had plenty of blue and white yarn left over (score for me!).

Super Scarves 2

My mom made up her own cable pattern -- I think it looks a little like an ocean wave running down the center. It took a lot of steam blocking to get this one to lay flat, but I think it looks fab.

Super Scarves 3

And here's my scarf, made with a free pattern called Hash Marks from Verdigris Knits, a fellow knitter and pattern designer in Indianapolis. She dove right into the Super Scarves project and has posted numerous free patterns using two colors of yarn in really interesting ways. I was afraid I'd have to settle for a boring two-color stripe -- I'm so happy I found something much more interesting.

September 14, 2011

More Kanoko Baby Pants

Green baby set
I recently gave this set of Kanoko baby pants and matching floursack hat to an expectant friend. I think I'm getting pretty good at these pants, after knitting them in blue and purple. There's a rosy pink pair on my knitting needles right now.

Green baby set

The hat is so easy that I've already made three or four in different colors and sizes. It's a quick and easy project to use up some of the leftover cotton blend yarn from the pants. What I like most about the hat (other than the little ears) is that it's knit in the round and closed up with a 3-needle bind-off, which means no need to sew up a seam and you get a really clean finished look. The pattern is from Baby Beanies by Amanda Keeys.

September 1, 2011

Houndstooth Crib Sheet in Grey & White

Crib sheet

My friend is expecting Baby #2 later this month, and lucky for her my repertoire of handmade baby gifts has grown since Baby #1. The baby's room is grey & yellow, and when I saw this grey & white houndstooth fabric I just had to try my hand at a crib sheet for the little one.

Crib sheet

My mom and my aunt vouched for this tutorial, so I dove in. With a few modifications (added width and a cleaner approach to the casing for the elastic) and phone calls to my mom for help, I ended up with a very cool houndstooth crib sheet. Here it is in a tidy little package ready for gifting.

Crib sheet ready for gifting

August 18, 2011

Crochet Critters

Crochet Critters
Lest you think Jen and I are the only crafty ones in our family, our sister Emily has a few tricks up her sleeve as well. Emily's craft method of choice is crochet, and she created this hippo and alligator using the patterns in Easy Crochet Critters courtesy of Vanna White (yes, that Vanna -- is there any other?).

Crochet hippo
I love the purple hippo, with his beady little eyes and nostrils.

Crochet alligator

And there's something about the alligator's stubby little legs that makes him a little less menacing.

Memory Game

Memory Game 1

What wonderfulness could be hiding in this adorable zippered pouch, you ask?

Memory Game 2

How about a handmade Memory Game made with wool felt and fun fabric scraps!

Memory Game 3

Memory Game 4

I used a tutorial from The Purl Bee, and my mom and I put together two sets of 15 matches each when I spent a week visiting her in Tennessee recently. This set features lots of pink and flowers and is for my nieces. (The pouch is my first successful zipper installation; I used a tutorial from Flossie Teacakes and increased the finished size to 10 inches square.) We made a second set with puppies, monkeys, plaids, and even some Halloween bats for my friend Anne's two little boys. I think John likes it. :)

John plays Memory

August 10, 2011

Greys in the City

My work often requires me to travel and usually I don't have a minute between meetings. However on this last trip I had a couple of hours before dinner and I took advantage of them to check out NYC through my blog lens. It's amazing what I my feet ache...because I packed the wrong shoes (again). Sometimes I just miss the cool greys of NYC because I get caught up finding a cab or leaving for the airport. I find the detail of the city and hidden gems dazzling. While many may see the beauty in the skyline, I'll admire the nooks and crannies!

July 21, 2011

Good Shoes Come to Those Who Wait

Grey & lime

I've been writing this post in my head since I received a shipping confirmation email last week. Well, to be honest, I've been planning this post since April. That's when a friend in Chicago sent me an email about some new shoes she'd just gotten, complete with links to view them online. After appreciating her good taste (and feeling a little jealous of her new fancy footwear), of course I had to check out Piperlime's Sale listings to see if any shoes might be looking for a good home in my closet. Ta-da!

Grey suede kicks

The good news is that I got these grey suede & purple Simple sneaks for a steal. The bad news is that they were backordered until mid-July. Some shoes are worth the wait!

New shoes

They arrived today, and I'm looking forward to wearing them everywhere this fall. (Purple ribbon laces go with everything, right?)


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