Friday, December 31, 2010

Where Did December Go???

Jill & Polly

It’s been too busy of a month for much crafting and sewing. I do have this onesie I finished for a friend’s first birthday:

Custom Embroidered Onesie by SewBeans 

and I made up a fun Stocking Stuffer Christmas game in which I made up the rules and 10 stockings to stuff.  Unfortunately for this blog, I was too flustered to get them done in time for Christmas to take any pictures. 

Today, finally getting a day off, I got back into the sewing spirit and checked out a new quilt shop!


Hayloft Fabrics, in Morgantown, PA, absolutely surprised me.  I walked up a staircase in the supermarket of a rural Pennsylvania town and ended up in a loft full of fabrics, notions, patterns, and books.  This photo doesn’t do it justice.  With the supermarket over the loft’s half wall, I perused a great selections of fabrics along the edges of the market.  Definitely was worth the trip!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fire Department Bust


Happy December!  I’m almost ready to start wrapping up my Christmas shopping and am looking forward to decorating the house! (When I’ll find time to do both is another question.)  I haven’t made any sales on my Etsy site for 2 months! and have been just as lazy about blogging my craft and sewing projects!  It’s fun to have a break!

Displaying my wares.

Yesterday, I set up a table at a local Fire Department’s craft fair.  I shared a table with a friend (she’s a Thirty-one consultant,) and marked down everything I had to rock bottom prices hoping for lots of sales.  She assured my that she’d seen the fair advertised everywhere.  Apparently, she was the only one.  I didn’t make a single sale, and it seemed that the vendors (about 50 of us) were the primary patrons to the other vendors.  Total bust.

dough balls rolling cookies jewel box cookies

The day wasn’t a total loss.  I made Smucker’s Jewel Box Cookies for dessert.  A simple butter cookie with jam will turn any frown upside down!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Year-at-a-Glance in a Year and a Half


It’s time for a celebration!  I finally finished my Year-at-a-Glance quilt tonight!  That’s right, finished!

Year-at-a-Glance Quilt 

The fabric and pattern were a gift for my birthday back in the summer of 2009.  (Remember this post?  or this post?)  Tonight, I finally tacked down the last two feet of binding. I rarely ever finish anything this big, and  I had to pinch myself to relinquish my disbelief.  Now, I just wish I had somewhere better than the bedroom curtains to prominently display it.

Calendar Quilt 

With every beautiful quilt, there’s a beast.  Not to be nit picky, but the appliqué patterns were all backwards.  And as adorable as this quilt is, this takes the cake and makes this pattern a solid D.  The sashing measurements were all off!  I had to calculate them and re-cut all the pieces.  That includes the outer square border, folks.  Pain in the …

My favorite month: May

I was forced to conquer a new technique on this quilt: hand embroidery.  I treated myself to a crash course in embroidering techniques via the internet, and with great success, I do think my lazy daises turned out perfectly.  That’s why the May block is my favorite!

Three Down, Ten to Go!

Where's My Rotary Cutter?

Monday, November 15, 2010

1 Block Down, 13 to Go

Jill Upside Down   

Everything is on hiatus until I finish this quilt top!

Pinwheel Block

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It’s a snap!

Jill, trying to keep the glare from her computer off her glasses.

I got a new toy, I mean, tool last week and finally took it out of the packaging for a test drive.  It’s my very own Dritz Pliers!  You know, for adding snaps to all my craft projects, in a snap, of course!


my snap pliers

Many thanks goes to Annie Rose’s online tutorial from Cowgirl Snaps for helping me avoid any frustration that these pliers would have encumbered upon me.  After carefully reading, and re-reading the tutorial, I’m feeling confident that I can snap together anything!

My first snap! Now you can tell it's a little bent...

I smartly practiced my new tool on some scrap fabric first. My first (half) snap came out a little wonky.  I persisted, re-read the tutorial, and went a little more slowly with the second snap.

A much better snap.

That one came out much better; however, I realized I could go back to my original snap, ply again, and get it to straighten out a little bit.   Actually, enough to look good!

Snaps in a snap! 

The little nubby part of the snap (the other half) went in perfectly.  Third time’s a charm!  I can’t wait to order some snaps from Cowgirl Snaps on Etsy and add snaps to everything!  <evil laugh>

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seeing Double

Double Jills

Some nights, I look forward to piddling away at my sewing machine, working on my own little projects that never seem to get finished.  Other nights, orders pile up and my embroidery machine beckons.  Was it merely coincidence, that as I prepared myself to make two onesies this evening, I opened up my email and found not one, but two adorable babies staring back at me wearing the cutest little onesies?  As if Providence knew exactly the right amount of motivation to get me through this evening’s chore. I love seeing the finished onesies, especially when adorned by a baby, and I remember why it’s so much fun to take the time to make them!

happy baby

baby gift

custom embroidered onesie

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gimme More Sugar


Yesterday, I enjoyed another journey to the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Oaks, PA joined by MrBeans.  For those of you faithful Rotary Cutter followers, you may recall my post on last year’s finds.  This year, I remained focused on holiday gift giving, and didn’t actually buy anything for myself.  (Shocker!)  …Except this little guy:

"Kirby, " a mug from Tom Phelp's Studio.

MrBeans and I met in Southwestern Virginia.  While walking through a street festival one summer, we came up these hysterical mugs created at Tom Phelps Studio, a local pottery studio in Floyd, Virginia.  Since we were poor college students at the time, we didn’t buy one, but I did snag a picture of MrBeans holding two of these mugs while giving his best impersonation of them.  When we walked into TPS’s booth and saw those funny faces again, I was reminded of that beautiful day in the mountains of Virginia, and I knew we had to get one!  So meet Kirby, my new coffee pal.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Soho Baby Bibs

Jill getting sleepy late at night.

I would be remiss if I never mentioned my favorite fabric shop on my quilty/crafty blog.  My one weekly “spam” email that I always look forward to reading comes not only with the latest and greatest must have fabrics and kits, but also with style, grace, and at least one project that immediately sends me daydreaming of me at my sewing machine, far far away from the computer holding the email, surrounded by work and cubicles.   Purl Soho is this little girl’s New York City dream!  One day, I’ll make it there, and shop my heart out!  …Until then, I’ll just have to shop online.

Now, You can only imagine my excitement when I returned home from work on Friday to find a package on my front porch sporting the words “Purl Soho!”  I dove right into the first project I pulled out of the box, and promised myself something to be proud of by the end of the night.

  Bibs in progress!

When I first saw the project for Liberty Baby Bibs on Purl’s blog, the Purl Bee,they looked too cute; then, when I went to check out the price of their kits, they already were sold out!!  If they were that popular, I had to have one.  I patiently waited for them to come back in stock. (FYI, I just got my kit yesterday and they’re already sold out of the “yellow” colorway.)  The kit comes with every thing you need to make four sweet little baby bibs, and if you’re not A.D.D. like me, it will take you no time at all to finish some adorable baby gifts.

One bib, finished!

Here’s the scoop:  I love this project.  Liberty of London’s Tana Lawn line of fabric is the silkiest cotton I have ever felt, and the colors are beautiful.  Purl provided an easy pattern to follow, and for those of you that don’t want to purchase a kit, you can download it online!    I’m thinking about creating my own pattern, and selling a customizable version in my shop.  Wouldn’t that be fun!? 

Now here’s my tip:  Use a heavy duty thread when sewing on the snap.  I used hand quilting thread.  It’s a large, sew-on snap, and the cotton thread that came with my kit broke on me while sewing the first half of the snap on. 

Clearly, I need a real baby for the full effect.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Boarder Crossing

Jill in the leaves.

My sewing machine whirled and hummed away tonight; so, I’m back to blogland with the results, just as I had promised myself!

Fat Quarter Quilt

I can’t believe I finally finished this quilt top!  (All I had left was to cut out and sew on the outer boarder…I’m 99% positive the center of it has been done for a year.)  I think I’m going to call it my Wonderland Quilt because of the bright colors and varied floral patterns.  It seems very curious to me. 

One thing I discovered tonight is that it’s very difficult to photograph a large quilt.  It’s tough to get the whole quilt in one frame, with the right lighting, not on a skewed angle and keeping the cat off it all at the same time.

Polly was looking for attention.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Hallow-vember-lection Day

Jill & Laptop

So, I’ve been a little MIA recently.  My sew machine went in for a tune-up and production slowed to a near halt.  That was two weeks ago and I still haven’t taken it for a test drive.  I did dress up as a bridesmaid for Halloween and made my first wedding cake.  (How’s that for crafty?!?)  Having embarked upon the 11th month of 2010, I voted yesterday.  Tomorrow, I think I’ll get back to sewing…

Pretty much the best redneck wedding cake ever.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Apple a Day

Me shopping at Solebury Orchards

I love apples and certainly do enjoy my apple a day!  And since I’m unable to sew, how about a trip up to Solebury Orchards in New Hope, PA?!

The Farmhouse at Solebury Orchards

MrBeans tricked me…somewhat.  He invited me to join him on a trip up to the Orchards.  I’m dreaming of apple picking; he’s dreaming of 37 gallons of cider.  Seriously. His current obsession is home brewing, and brewing hard cider is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to do it.  So while he was checking into on how to purchase an obnoxious amount of cider, I was poking around the farm’s market. 

Doing what I love: grocery shopping.

I can’t wait to make some apple crisp or apple pie!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Check Engine Light


While sewing last week, the “check engine light” on my sewing machine turned on.  And yes, it’s just as annoying as when it turns on in the car.  Sure, you can keep sewing…or your can bring it into the dealership and expect to hand over your wallet when you want it back.  Well, being that I probably care more about my sewing machine than my car, I sadly dropped it off at my local sewing machine shop.  Back at home, unable to sew and unmotivated to clean, I took a nap most of the afternoon.  :)

SewBeans custom embroidered onesie.

To get my sewing fix in, I took care of one last onesie before dropping it off.  I hope my machine’s not gone long!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Handmade Laptop Bag


I made a foolish decision. I purchased a 17” laptop.  This was foolish, because almost no where, on God’s green earth, can one find a laptop bag big enough to fit such a monstrosity of a computer.  At the time, I had no clue I would run into such a debacle.  I, blinded by the large screen and number pad, possessed not a clue into the lack of portability that would ensue when purchasing these features. So I’m sure you can figure out what I did…

A Laptop Bag Designed by Me!

I graciously helped myself to my stash of fabric make a perfectly sized laptop case for my over-sized, “portable” computer.

If you can manage to follow my steps, you may be inclined to try to make your own.  I used a 1/2” seam allowance and happily finished with a functional laptop bag.

Step 1: Seclecting the perfect fabrics.

I decided to use one of my prized Heather Ross fabrics, Natural Roses from Far Far Away 2, and some leftover blue fabric from the back of a quilt I haven’t quite finished yet…
Step 2: Cutting pieces for the inner lining and outside. I based the construction of the bag on a box with an open top.  I carefully measured around each edge of my laptop, then cut each side, adding to the length and width an 1 inch for seam allowances and 1/2 fudge factor.  (I couldn’t imaging going through all this trouble for the bag to be too small!)
Step 3: Practice by making the lining first. I made two sets of fabric boxes, one for the inner lining and one for the outer.  I made the inner lining first to test my design.  I sewed together the four sides of the box, then the bottom.  Before sewing on the bottom, I carefully pinned it in place.
Step 4: Make sure the laptop will fit in the bag! I anxiously “tried on” the laptop bag by slipping my computer into the lining.  It fit!
Step 5: Add some cushioning. Next, to add a little extra padding, I basted batting onto the inside of each outside bag piece.
Step 6: Create some unique handles. Using the top edge of my largest side, I sketched a creative shape for my handles on some trace paper.  With some fancy folding (in half) I was able to make them symmetrical.  (Please be aware that these handles serve a more aesthetic purpose than functional.)
Step 7: Add your own whimsy and charm. For fun, I was inspired by the Velveteen Rabbit and appliqué a little bit of whimsy on to my bag.
I created the outer shell of my laptop bag by duplicating my inner lining box construction, and sewed together the sides, then pinned and sewed on the bottom.
Step 8: Create and attach a flap for securing the bag closed. I created a flap for the top of my laptop bag, being careful to make sure it fit between my handles.  I made the flap close with a button hole, because I was nervous that if I tried velcro, the pieces wouldn’t line up.  I’m mad at myself for forgetting to switch from my basting thread to my finish thread.  Luckily, I remembered before stitching around the edge.
Step 9: Sew it all together. After basting on the flap between the back handle, I put the exterior bag into the lining and sewed around the top.  Through a hole in the side of the lining, I flipped the bag right sides out and lining sides in.
Step 10: Finishing Touches I edge stitched around the top for a finished look, then carefully attached the button into place
Now that's a handmade laptop bag! Now, I have a super cool, handmade, and one-of-a-kind laptop bag.  I think it’s really awesome!