Category Archives: sewing

Birds-in-a Box; a quilt recipe

I can finally share a quilt I have had sitting around for quite awhile. I made this for my neighbor to celebrate the birth of their daughter. These neighbors are awesome people and we are blessed that they moved in a few years ago, so I wanted to make something special for their baby girl!


I call it Birds-in-a-Box, and it is a great use for one charm pack and a solid. To make this quilt top you will need:

40 patterned squares (one charm pack should do it)

24 solid squares (cut to charm pack size: 5×5 inches

contrasting scraps for the birds

1. Lay out your squares so that you love how they look. If you are me, you will do this about 20 times. You will also do  this with your children who will help you by rearranging them as soon as you find the perfect combination. Or, maybe you just give them to your children and let them plan it out. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have just done that in the first place….

2. Sew together to make blocks of 4 squares each, trying to keep them in the original order. If you are me, this means you will actually mix them up, forgetting your original design, say what the heck and put them together however…)

3. Sew your 4×4 blocks together to get four quarters of your quilt top, then sew those four together.

4. Make your birds. This is the fun part, and no, I’m not together enough to have an actual template to print out. You get to make it yourself! These guys are pretty easy to draw; you simple make a body and then the wing. I made three different sizes and traced them lightly with a pencil right onto my fabric, then cut with a scissors.


5. Sew the birds onto your quilt top. Do do this, use a little glue stick on the back of each bird, then stick them down to the quilt top. To sew, drop your presser feet, and use the darning foot from your machine (this is the little round one). Then you simply free motion all around the edges, and add the feet. Done! Three sweet little birds! (Warning, this was much harder than I thought it would be…practice with some scraps first!)

There you go: Birds-in-a-Box! Throw together, quilt as you wish, bind off and give to your favorite baby.




Filed under Quilting, tutorial

Monthly Apparel January Check-In

Well my fellow Monthly Apparel friends, how’s your January project coming? Finished? Close to finished? Starting up in February?

Well, you can see how I’m faring. My plan to sew a bit each night went well, but I had a few hang-ups. The first was typical, I caught a cold which knocked me out of sewing mode for about three days. The second was tougher. I tried the top on and of course, had problems with fit.


I thought I was being clever and sneaky with this wrap dress. My though was that if I took really good measurements and bought some cheap linen/poly on sale at JoAnn’s I could skip a muslin and just make the dress. Lessons learned. Just like a swatch is a necessary pain in knitting, a muslin is a necessary pain in sewing.

It’s hard to tell in the picture, but I’ve got at least two extra inches of fabric on each side, even though I have the bodice wrapped and tied as tight as I can. The shoulders are also too loose and will certainly slide down. I took it off and pinned it, and I think if I sew some new seams in a few areas the dress will be okay.

But that leaves the question of, just how much do I need to rip out to do this? Do I need to partially rip out the facings too? I have a busy next couple of nights, but I should have it fixed by this weekend.

I’m looking forward to seeing some finished projects! There are already some great ones over at the Monthly Apparel Flickr site. If you haven’t joined yet, come on over! We’ve got a nice group started up already.


**Sorry for the missing photo!! I’m not sure why it disappeared and I already deleted it from my camera. Guess you’ll have to wait until this weekend now for the finished dress. Or maybe my photo will return?? Strange…..


Filed under Monthly Apparel, sewing

Piece by piece….

Hello! I’d first like to give a big “welcome” to those of you visiting from Whip Up! Thanks for stopping by! It’s always nice to meet new friends.

Monthly Apparel is getting off the ground, and I’d love to have even more people join us. Have you been to the Flickr site yet? If you haven’t, stop by, join up and let us see what you’re sewing! We just had the first project of the year put up. Can’t wait to see more!

I think I finally figured out what holds me back from getting more sewing done. As I squeezed in a few rows of knitting the other night, I realized that the reason I get so much knitting done isn’t because I sit down for hours at a time. It’s because I knit every day. Maybe only ten minutes at a time sometimes, but I make time for it. For some reason, I have always felt that to sew I need a big chunk of time. But why? I can work the same way I knit, a bit at a time. Because really, with three boys how often do I ever have hours to sew? That rarely happens!

Crepe Dress

So tonight I actually started sewing on Crepe. I only worked on the bodice, sewing in those dreaded darts. But upon looking at the pattern, if I only sew one new piece on each night I’ll easily get the dress done by the end of January.

Speaking of darts, does anyone have some good tips on getting them to fit right? Just from holding the front of the dress up it seems as if I’m close, but since I don’t have much in the bust department I’m worried it will not have the smoothest fit. I have to admit, sewing a pattern together doesn’t bother me too much, but the alterations? Yikes. While I chose not to do a muslin for this dress (wrap around, remember?) I hear-by promise to do one for the next blouse/top/dress that I make.

In the meantime, I’m already coming up with a plan for next February. It’s a tie between some type of a-line or circle skirt or the blouse that in in the new Burda Style book. What will you sew in February?


Filed under sewing

And I’m off….

So the big decision. What pattern do I pick to I start this journey? Something easy? Something simple? Something…..already started?

Okay, I’m confessing that my first Monthly Apparel project is a UFO. Last summer I had the idea to make myself a dress. I spent and entire day tracing and cutting the pattern. And since then it has sat in the corner of my sewing room glaring at me every time I come into the room. See, the thing that scares me about sewing clothing is the actual putting it together part. I can cut and trace all day, but putting it together? I worry it won’t fit right so I hit the denial stage and go do something else. So this month I’m taking that leap of faith and actually sewing it together.

This is “Crepe” from Colette Patterns. You see that word, “beginner” on the cover? Honestly, this should not be that hard. This does not involve the dreaded zipper nor the evil buttonhole. (I’m having nightmares about buttonholes.) And she gives great instructions. Maybe a bit of adjusting in the bust, but really, this should work, right?

I’m planning to sew on it this weekend, once I finish cleaning up the post-holiday havoc that still exists upstairs. I did not make a muslin for this one (it’s a wrap dress, come on!) but I did purchase some half-price plum linen/poly blend at JoAnn’s to use as my practice dress. If all goes well, I’m predicting another version in double gauze sometime in my future.

If you have never paid a visit to Colette Patterns before, I highly suggest that you do so. She has the longest list of tutorials I’ve seen online, as well as a huge library of patterns and a new book.


I also wanted to mention that I put a Flickr group together for Monthly Apparel. I’d love to have you share your inspirations as well as your WIPs and finished garments. Remember, knitters, you are welcome to take this challenge on too! (Seriously, I’d love to see someone knit a sweater a month.)


Filed under sewing

2012 – Monthly Apparel

So, did you come up with a goal for 2012? I did, and I’m hoping some of you might want to join me. I’m calling it Monthly Apparel, and my plan is to sew one item of clothing for myself each month. I’ll pick a pattern at the beginning of the month and share how it turned out at the end. It’s that simple!

I’d call myself an advanced beginner when it comes to sewing garments. I can whip up a pair of pajama pants or a knit skirt in no time. I have installed exactly one zipper. I’ve made a few t-shirts. But that’s about it. My personal goal this year to go beyond the basics and sew something new. Blouses, dresses and skirts are all on my list, along with the ever so scary real pair of pants. I’ll be sharing my favorite resources and what I like to call my” textbooks” for this experiment. I’ll report it all back to you. And hopefully, by 2013 I’ll at least be able to call my self an intermediate and have a nice closet full of clothes as well.

Now, maybe you can already put a zipper in a skirt while you sleep. Or maybe you’ve never sewn before and even a pair of kid’s pajama pants sounds daunting. Whatever your level, I’m hoping you’d also like to have a dozen new items in your closet this year.  No need to be fancy or complicated, just a desire to learn to sew your own clothing.

(Editing to add: The very clever Mrs. Pao had an awesome idea…no need to stick to sewing! If you’re a knitter who does not sew, why not knit a garment a month? Just because I’m focused on sewing doesn’t mean you must!)

Please feel free to join me on this endeavor. Grab a button if you’d like. Share your ideas and projects. You can comment here, or join me over in the Monthly Apparel Flickr group.  I look forward to seeing what you will make! And this is seriously no pressure. If you miss a month, then you miss a month. No big deal. Those of you who have been reading me for years are already laughing at the idea of me actually managing to get an item finished each month. But I’m going to try!


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Filed under sewing

Spring in Minnesota makes me feel all rambly…..

Edited to add: Boy, did I ramble. Anyone who actually reads through this entire post truly deserves some sort of prize, like having your favorite incredibly gorgeous actor/ress showing up on your doorstep with a case of wine and extra large box of chocolates. And yarn and fabric.

There is something about the springs rains in Minnesota. The sky is still the same gray you’ve been looking at all winter but suddenly there is green everywhere. Looking at all that green makes me realize what is just around the corner, if only I can make it through the mud, muck and cold wet jackets. It makes me unfocused and wandering around from task to task, a little of this, a little of that. So that’s the sort of blog post you’ll be getting from me today. A summary of sorts, since I haven’t done that in awhile anyway. I’ll even do bullets, just for kicks.

  • My screen free week was not as productive as I’d hoped. The combination of extreme sleepiness along with my discovery of  Patrick Rothfuss meant that I was either reading, falling asleep while reading, (terrible when all you want to do is read the book!), falling asleep while putting the boys to bed, or sleeping. Very little crafting happened, if any.
  • Speaking of Patrick Rothufss, I started his second book yesterday, and while looking at his blog today figured out that we both went to UWSP (where he now teaches and lives) at the same time. Not only that, but we studied some of the same subjects and more than likely crossed paths quite often, maybe even had a class together, as it’s a small school. This made me feel like I was about thirteen and had temptations to go to his Facebook page and say something dorky and stupid about going to school together.  I resisted. However it’s driving me nuts because I can’t remember if I knew him for sure. In fact, I realized that although I majored in history I can’t remember the name of one friend in the history department (despite being treasurer of the History Club and attending many pizza nights) and the names of only two professors. Do we really start to forget this stuff this young? Sheesh, I’m only thirty-seven!
  • Speaking of crafting, I do have pictures to share. I managed to squeak out four quilt blocks for Annik’s Log Cabin’s for Japan project. I pieced together one quilt and although I tried, fell asleep with the boys both nights that I had planned on quilting and binding it. Luckily Annik is a quilting maniac and finished it up. Be sure to look at the Flickr group to see them. How amazing to have all these beautiful squares from all over the country put together like this! Annik did a wonderful job organizing; I’m lucky to have her as a friend.
  • Because every blog post deserves pictures, we’ll have an interlude with my blocks….





  • Making log cabin blocks is very, very addicting. I had to make myself stop at 1:30am.
  • So here’s more random…..I had a very nice and interestingcomment from a new reader. She said she’d really like to follow my blog, but wished I allowed the full post in my RSS feed. Now I also agree how annoying it is when you subscribe to everything in a reader but still have to click on the blogs to go and read the full post, so I understand how she feels. But, I know when I changed it to a short feed a few years ago it was because someone told me my blog was being reprinted in some sort of other feed, without my name/consent and that a shortened feed was the only was to stop it. Honestly, I can barely even remember the details. It seems half the bloggers out there these days have shortened feeds and half do not. Anyone know the latest these days? Anyone have a preference? I’m considering making it a full feed again but don’t want to if it means all my work is ripped off….
  • Onto more crafting, Project Spectrum starts this weekend!! And this year, I am determined to do the whole darn thing.
  • Lolly’s suggestions made me sign up for Tumblr although I’m not quite sure that I need more sites to clog my brain. Maybe I don’t quite get the draw yet. Anyway, if you’re on there come and find me. I’m Knittymama, as usual!
  • Speaking of technology, I broke my Nook. And no, I didn’t buy the extended warranty even though I have three small people in my house. Because my brain is on such massive overload I seriously can’t keep anything else in it, like remembering to buy a warranty. Let’s hope the Skeptic’s extreme tech skills will allow him to replace the screen successfully.
  • Speaking of my small people, I have to report that Spinner is finally talking away. I can’t remember how much I blogged about this, but last November, when he was about 26 months, he had a vocabulary of about 10 words, all which pretty much sounded the same. After a few months of speech therapy he’s talking all the time, which is a joy to hear. He’s got a lot of work left yet, as his articulation is pretty bad, but just the fact that he’s talking now is awesome; he’s come a log way already.  Sentences are hard for him, and he says them in a very cute way that makes it sound like he puts a period after each word. So today when I brought home a giant bag of cat food (which I guess was exciting for some reason) he said, “Big. Cat. Food. Mama?” So sweet, and so nice to hear.
  • And although I could probably do ten more bullets (spinning! red stuff! my newly finished vest! pants for boys! food allergies! kids and mud and worms! Dr. Who!) I’ll spare you the rest, for today, and save it for a later date.


Filed under friends, giving, Project Spectrum, Quilting, random


I’m so excited to have made it into  Whip Up this week! If this is your first visit over here, welcome!! Feel free to take a look around and say “hello!” And if you’re already a regular reader here but not familiar with Whip Up, I highly recommend you take a peek over there. It’s my favorite go-to site for news and ideas in the crafting world.

Just a quick sneak peek today at what I call The Drag Around Family Blanket. I’ll have a simple tutorial coming up for it next week sometime. If you have some basic sewing skills and have been wanting to try your hand at a bigger  but very doable project, this one is for you!

More important, I’m very, very remiss to not have mentioned this earlier, since it’s a project organized by one of my best friends. Annik over at Mini Mushrooms has organized Log Cabins for Japan. Make a log cabin block or two (or ten!) and mail them in by next week. She has a great tutorial up if you’ve never made one before. I know what I’ll be sewing this weekend!

Log Cabins for Japan


Filed under friends, giving, Quilting, sewing

Pretty Easy


1/2 yard single gauze (I used Nani Iro. You might find some if you dig around on Etsy. Double gauze would work as well.)

1/2 yard silk or silk poly blend.

Cut each in half across the grain, selvage to selvage (so you have two long pieces).

Trim so they are even (mine were about 8.5 inches wide)

Sew each set together (at the ends) so you end up with two very long pieces.

Trim to 72 inches.

Sew right sides together, leaving one end open.

Turn right side out.


Top stitch around the edges.






Filed under scarf, sewing, tutorial

A Quilt

Mod Sampler Quilt.


First quilt ever pieced, second to be completed.


This quilt is for ME. It is girly and pink and most certainly to have pizza sauce fingerprints smeared on it any day now. I am insisting on keeping it in the sunroom and using it despite its delicate nature.

Obligatory “boys jumping around on the quilt” photos.


And yes, I did free motion this baby, and hand bind it was well, thank you. I’ve very brave like that.

And thank you to my dear friend Annik for forcing convincing me to make this quilt and pushing me off the quilting cliff. I like it here.


Filed under Quilting

You are seeing:


A. A very pretty scarf that I made over the weekend.

B. A large floral life preserver that I made over the weekend.

C. A wife who is annoyed that she has to have her picture taken in the shop by her husband who keeps saying, “It’s just really BIG, don’t you think?”

What’s your guess?

I’m undecided. And you CAN pick B if you think so.

The scarf, by the way, is from a Anna Maria Horner kit. Her post and tutorial here. Of course, it looks gorgeous on her. Still my favorite fabric designer ever, I have to say. Her fabric always stands out to me, and I love that she got the whole voile/flannel/velveteen thing going! Very smart.


Filed under pattern, sewing