Saturday, December 17, 2011

Birdseed Ornaments

I love handmade Christmas gifts. I found this little project in Country Living magazine and thought I would test it out to see if it could become one of my handmade gifts this year. Link is here if you want to try it yourself.

I found that the recipe made more ornaments than it stated. I filled 3 cookie cutters when it only called for one. I also added a lot more birdseed than called for. It just seemed too runny so I kept adding. I think I could have added even more. I also had to wait a LONG time for the mixture to thicken up to pour into the cutters. If you don't wait long enough it will spill out the sides and you will have a huge mess.

In the end I love the thought behind them, but I don't think I will be giving these out. This is definitely a cold weather craft. I set them on the kitchen table when I was done and they started to melt. You have to hang them outside immediately in the cold air for them to stay hard. Just having the heat on in the house and the little but of sun from the window softened them right up, which would make them hard to wrap and give away. You would end up with a soggy mess of coconut oil and seeds.

This would make a good winter craft to do with children. I envisioned a beautiful evergreen tree in the front yard filled with these, and tiny little birds munching to their hearts content. I guess that is where I went off track. I dont have an evergreen tree and I think my dog sitting in the window is scaring off the birds from eating the one I have hanging from my planter hook. It remains untouched. I want something to eat it so bad I almost would not mind the squirrels taking a bite. I have two more in the freezer if you have an evergreen tree and don't mind riding home with no heat. They are all yours.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Totes for Teachers

The nice thing about having a blog that no one follows is that I can post all my Christmas goodies before the holiday and not really have to worry about spoiling it for anyone.

I made these Winslow Tote bags by Kathy Mack for the 2 main teachers at my daughter’s daycare. I really think they truly like their jobs and the children they care for and I wanted to show my appreciation with some handmade goodness.

I love this boat fabric. Its another nice piece from the gifted stash from my husbands Aunt Tiny. The bottom of the bag is a pirate treasure map fabric I picked up at Joann's.

I dipped into my stash for this bag and used up the last of my Melissa Averinos Sugar Snap fabric. I should have bought 10 yards of this stuff. I love the color combination of the aqua, orange and pink. I am going to have a hard time parting with this one, it is so pretty.

The horse fabric I used for the lining is just darling.

I love this pattern. You can use all fat quarters, or small pieces of fabric you might have left over from some other project. Plus the patchwork effect is great. Anything goes. I hope to make a couple more of these to keep for shopping or running errands.

There is still lots more Christmas sewing to get done. I wish I had the time to make all of my gifts. Maybe if I start in January I might be able to do just that. It would be wonderful to have a completely handmade Christmas in the Hill house.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas Quilt and Mindless Chatter

I have a confession. Christmas is not my favorite holiday. Actually it ranks pretty low on the holiday list of favorites. I tend to get a little weighed down by the consumerism, travel, constant running around and the idea that you must do it all with a cheerful smile. I much prefer Thanksgiving or Halloween where you can still stuff your face but with so much less pressure. Which is why I was surprised to be drawn to this Christmas quilt pattern. I guess sometimes the projects pick you and not the other way around. The pattern is Trees Up Lights On by Sandy Gervais. I am making this one for my family. It’s been a long time since I made a quilt that will stay in our home and is not for someone else. I am really excited to create some simple, quiet and cherished Christmas family memories with this quilt. I can just picture my daughter snuggled under it on Christmas morning.

All the blocks are complete. Now I need to square them up and piece them together. It really is a pretty easy quilt to put together. You sew a little here, trim a little there, then sew some more. It’s a perfect pattern for anyone who hates exact piecing. I cannot wait to find the perfect backing and binding fabric. I am thinking some polka dots.

On a side note I cannot keep my daughter out of the dog food and water bowls. There is an irresistible magnetic force that draws her in. It’s rather frustrating but amusing since I am amassing a large array of blackmail pictures for when she is older.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Superhero Fort Kit

My super awesome neighbors have a son who just so happens to be born on the best day of the year (my birthday). He was having a superhero themed birthday and I needed just the right gift since well, he is special, being a Libra and all. I thought about buying him another man barbie action figure but then I found this great diy gift idea here and here and here. It was pretty quick to put together and I hope it brings him hours of imaginative play time. I remember building forts when I was a kid and loved it. Heck I still feel like a kid, anyone down for some fort time? Here are all the superhero fort building essentials you need, a cape, flashlight, glow sticks, clamps, rope and a giant sheet. I picked up a yard each of this Batman and Superman fabric at Joanns and made the cape reversible. This way he can choose which hero he would like to be on any given day. I used the leftover fabric to make the bag.
This is a great gift idea if you have any little boys in your life in need of a birthday present.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The BIG 30

Today is my birthday. I have made it to the BIG 30. Can someone please tell me when do you start feeling like a grown up because I still feel like I am 16 (and would kill to have the body I did when I was 16).

I spent some time this weekend going to my BFAM’s (brother from another mother) wedding, celebrating with friends, getting a pedicure and just enjoying the time spent with people I love. I received some great gifts, not that I expected any. Shout out to my husband for the best ammonite bracelet ever. I also thought about some of the things I want to focus on for the next year of my life. Put on your galoshes because this might get deep, not too deep, just a little, maybe like a puddle. Here goes.

1) I will embrace this hair of mine, in all its long, going grey, kinky glory.

2) I will focus more on the people/things/experiences that fill me up, rather than weigh me down.

3) I will evaluate the time suck that is technology and try to eliminate the use of it that is not really contributing to my life.

4) I will sew more, and hopefully blog about it more, because it makes me happy, very, very happy.

5) I will continue to de-clutter my home and mind from the things and thoughts that don’t make me feel good.

6) I will try to not compare myself to others so much.

7) I will kiss and hug and squeeze my dog more, because I think she feel like a 3rd wheel since Lenora entered the picture.

8) I will spend more time building up the people I love so much, myself included, rather than focusing on their weaknesses.

9) Finally, I will slow down. I am not quite sure who or what I am racing against but I am pretty sure it’s not a competition to see who can get to the end the fastest.

Whew, did you make it through all that. It feels good just to write it down. I feel like I have accomplished so much in 30 years but still have so much further to go. I guess life is really about the journey and not the destination. Now its off to the sewing machine to work on #4.

I could not resist this picture. Lenora is fearless. No Kirby will get the best of her.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Simple Sewing

My husbands Aunt Tiny blessed me with the mother load of fabric. I'm talking suitcases full of vintage goodies, apparel blends, you name it, it was there. In the stash was this little beauty just dying to be made into something pretty. It is a heavier weight and the border print just screamed tablecloth. And since I am still a little bitter over my missing quilt pieces I needed something simple to sew. All I did was trim the selvedges and miter the corners. An hour later and she was done.
Check out those mitered corners. Great tutorial here. I wanted a double fold for a clean finish so just fold and iron once, then follow the instructions for the miter. When you are done it will be double. Sometimes you just need a simple little something to sew.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fancy Pants

I should be sewing on my Christmas quilt. The one quilt I have made in ages that is for me/my family and no one else. The quilt that I loved so much it took me almost a year to find exactly the right cherry reds and lime greens. But ever since the basement ghost came along and walked off with 4 of my quilt pieces I have become a little pissy about it. I don’t really have a ghost but how else do you explain 4 missing pieces from 420 stacked into perfect blocks? We don’t have a cat so I cant even blame it on that.

Which reminds me of the one time when I was still living with my mom. I laid out a quilt on her basement floor and left it for the night to sew the next morning. When I came back to it there were pieces everywhere with chewed edges. She has 3 cats and I swear they had a keg party on my quilt. I never did get it laid back out the way it was originally.

I digress. So since I became all pissy about the Christmas quilt I just had to sew something adorable for little Lenora. The Anna Maria Horner Quick Change Trousers were the perfect project. I made the cloth diaper bum adjustment mentioned here, and a short while later I had the cutest pair of reversible pants.

Check out those little birds. I have been holding on to this fabric for a while waiting for the perfect project to come
Can you get any more adorable than that? I see more of these pants in my future. They were easy and pretty quick to sew.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

For the Love of Sewing (the super secret surprise unveiling)

My grandmother taught me how to sew with old pillowcases and barbie dress patterns. Ever since then I have had a love affair with needle and thread. One of the reasons I sew is because I get to make things for the people that I love. I made this quilt for a dear friend of mine, just because she likes butterflies, and just because she is the best friend a gal could ever have. I had this quilt idea in my head for years but could not find the right vintage butterfly quilt blocks. One day the perfect vintage quilt top magically appeared on ebay and I made her butterfly quilt dream a reality.

The butterflies are vintage hand appliqued quilt blocks and the border fabric is also vintage. The striped squares are reproduction prints that replaced plain muslin squares on the original quilt top. The sewing was not so great and the plain muslin squares were stained so I took the whole top apart, washed it and put it back together again with some new fabric.

Here is a shot of the back where I pieced together some Kona cotton and leftover fabric from the front. I think my measurements were off or I was working on this late night because how I originally planned it and how it turned out are totally different. I was sweating there for a minute wondering if I had enough fabric to finish the back but it all worked out in the end.
I love these labels. I ordered then from Fancyweaver. I know it's not a USA based company but the price was right, they were easy to work with and the labels look great. They are end fold labels but just long enough I can unfold them and tuck it into a corner of a quilt.

Here is another one of my hand embroidered quilt labels.

On a side note these pictures were taken in my grandmothers back yard, the backyard of the same house I learned to sew in. She has two perfect trees that I stretched a piece of rope between to take quilt pictures. I say I but you would not catch my butt climbing a ladder up that tree. Its my husband that does all the heavy lifting while I stand safely on the ground directing.

So tell me, why do you sew?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Presto Pesto

I made pesto this weekend. A ton of it. Well maybe not a ton, but 7 half pint jars of it, and considering how many basil leaves that took I am calling it a ton. Just look at all that lovely green goodness. I planted 4 basil plants this year and had no idea just how much they would grow. Since I am trying to make a more concerted effort to know where my food comes from and eat less processed I decided to make pesto and freeze it for use all winter. I already have another huge batch which I froze in ice cube trays then popped out into a freezer bag. This batch went into wide mouth canning jars. I am trying really hard to reduce my dependence on plastic baggies. I feel horrible every time I throw one of those little buggers in the trash or recycling bin. Hopefully it will turn out well and the jars will not crack. They are freezer safe, so says Ball, and I did not fill them all the way to the top, so we shall see.

I could eat buckets of this stuff, on pizza or just plain ole whole wheat pasta. Maybe next year I will try my hand at real canning. I would love to can some big juicy Maryland summer tomatoes to use year round. Each step I take to eat better and reduce what we throw away just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Corners of my Home

I always see on blogs where people post beautiful images of the lovely little corners of their homes...big comfy reading chairs...children's art centers...pretty kitchen get the drift. I was feeling a little sarcastic when I took this picture yesterday and thought I would share with you a corner of my home. Behold my kitchen table corner. Isn't it lovely. Let me break it down for you. Thats a purse I never use anymore way in the back because all I carry around with me these days is a diaper bag, breast pump and work laptop. There is a really ugly rug under the table. I cant remember why I even bought that. I mean who puts a rug under a kitchen table. Its just kinda gross. Throw in a stroller, car seat, bumbo and miscellanious toys and you have one hot mess. Cut me a little slack. Its only my second week back to work from maternity leave and my husband is out of town. All excuses aside it generally always looks like this.
Now here is another corner. An empty one at that. Waiting for the perfect crap catcher/storage device to house all the junk on my kitchen table. Im looking for something like this but am too scared to even enquire how many dollar bills it will set me back. Maybe something will present itself if I ever get the time for a much needed day of thrifting.

What do the corners of your home look like? Are they anywhere near as bad as this?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fabric in Unexpected Places

I found some great fabric the last two weeks in unexpected places. The bottom two came from an antique store in Galesville, MD. I always mean to stop there after lunch at my uncles restaurant but never seem to. Shameless plug here: my uncles restaurant has the most wonderful view, the restaurant is on a pier and the food is terrific. Stop by for crabs if you are ever in Maryland. Anyway my niece was in town and the antique store happened to be open after we had lunch. I found this funky pink and green floral upholstery fabric and a vintage cotton with a kitchen herb print. That upholstery fabric is just calling out to be a foot stool in Lenora's room. The other fabric is this amazing cotton/silk blend I found at Joann fabrics. I am usually not a fan of their apparel fabrics as they are mostly synthetic but this stuff is great. It's buttery soft and drapes nicely. I can't wait to make a breezy summer shirt from it.

Just for kicks here is a shot of my hot mess of a backyard. We live in a town home so there is not much space for gardening, especially since our entire yard is a deck. This year we planted tons of herbs in planter boxes. That is my basil in the back after I made the mother load of pesto last night to freeze for the winter. There are peppers hiding behind the bench and in the front is mint. The dill did not fare so well but I think that is partly due to the heat and my friends dog peed on it. Burnt right up. Note to self, do not leave large dogs on deck unattended.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sew Deer To Me

This time next week I will be back at work, sitting at a desk, wishing I was home with baby Lenora. I am trying not to have a major mental breakdown. To keep those nasty work thoughts at bay I made this little dress. The fabrics are Jay Mccarroll prints for Free Spirit. I love the little pink dear and mushrooms.

On a side note Jay critiqued my senior fashion collection at Phila U. Maybe one day I will share those pictures (not of Jay, but of the collection).

The pattern is Butterick 3846 bought at Joann's at the recent pattern sale. I liked it so much I purchased both sizes. I wanted the dress to be reversible so instead of hand-stitching the openings closed I top stitched the entire dress.

I swear there is an easier way to stitch and flip this baby right side out. Its not complicated at all to make but sewing the side seams is weird to me. Maybe if you left the opening at the bottom hem, instead of the side seams it might be easier. I am going to play around with it on the next dress. I have a feeling there are many more of these to come for Lenora.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sewing Pitfalls

I have always said my sewing room is off limits to imposed cleaning requirements. When the mood strikes I may tidy, sweep, or de-fuzz. Creativity must be allowed to happen regardless of the mess. It is no pigsty but I have been known to throw my threads and bits of fabric on the floor when I am in a sewing groove. It just happens. Lets not talk about the quilting pins scattered throughout the house and pushed into the arms of the couch. There is a needle in there somewhere I have not been able to find yet. However when you let creativity just happen, this happens....

This is the wheel to my rolly chair. I slide all over the basement, from the computer to the iron to the sewing machine, picking up all those threads I have been known to throw on the floor.

And this is my husband picking the thread out of the wheels cursing my no imposed cleaning rule. What can you do?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Practical Sewing

Not a whole lot of "fun" sewing going on lately. I have been working on practical things, like sewing buttons back on pants and making burp rags from dishcloths. Nothing even remotely interesting enough to share a picture of.

I thought I would share a project I completed a while back. This is a t-shirt quilt I made for my uncle. I was cranking these out at a steady pace for a while there. They are relatively easy to make and create quite and impact if there is a theme or all the shirts are similar colors. My uncles is made out of his Harley t-shirts and this quilt barely made a dent in his stash. Since they were all black I use the traditional Harley orange to frame them with a flame fabric for the corner blocks. The key to these quilts in interfacing. You need a lot of it but if you don't back each of the squares that knit jersey will go buck wild on you.

A close up of the quilting. I send my quilts out to Michele Mueller in Fremont, Nebraska for quilting when they are too big to fit in my machine. She is amazing and it helps to have a long haul truck driving father in law to do all my shipping.

Here is a shot of the back. I found the best black and white motorcycle fabric and used it in panels for the back. On a side note you can see the legs of the ladder in the left of the picture. Robert is hiding behind the tree so I could get a good shot. What a nice husband was he to climb up there and hang my larger quilts so I could get some pictures outside.

Another hand embroidered quilt label. I love doing these. Its nice to have a small project to work on while you are waiting somewhere or watching TV in the evenings.

Hope you enjoyed this little past project.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I am not a particularly lucky gal. Well, let me clarify. I am super lucky in that I have a wonderful family, healthy 3 month old, swell sidekick dog, food, shelter, hugs, kisses, fairy dust and all that jazz. I am not so lucky in that I win raffles, contests or find huge wads of money laying on the side of the road, but I did get lucky this past weekend. I found a Maya Sling at the Goodwill. I can hardly believe it myself. I also snagged these super swell Pyrex bowls at a yard sale. I love the green and white flower Pyrex. I have a couple in my kitchen, but I am always on the lookout for the red rooster pattern. How about you, score any good deals recently?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sew Not a Sewing Project

Sew I have been working on a project of the non sewing kind. In an effort to reclaim some of my living room from the massive piles of baby stuff accumulation I came up with this. I picked this little dresser up on Craigslist for a little more than a song. At first I thought I would just clean her up and use her as is but when I got it home she turned out looking a little more orangy than I would have liked, and the top needed refinishing anyway. She also needed a little TLC, so Robert performed some minor surgery on her undercarriage to get her in good working order.

A few coats of paint and some new knobs later and here is she, in all her glory in my living room. I admit at first I was kinda skeptical about a purple dresser in the living room but it works. She sits in a corner that just collected dust tumbleweeds anyway and is small enough to look like she belongs. Plus I can change the baby right on top without bending over and all the crap is hidden in the drawers.

She also matches this super awesome rug I just picked up on Overstock. Its a psychedelic explosion in my living room and it hides all the dog hair. Is it strange I just called a dresser a she this whole post? Happy home improvements to you all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Little Lovlies

Check out this beautiful stack of fabric I just picked up for my "secret" project. I am falling in love with all of these reproduction fabrics. They are just so bright and cheery.

I just had to share this picture. This is my dog Lilly helping me sew. She loves blankets, fabrics, clothes and pretty much anything that smells like a person. I turned my back for one second and she had buried herself underneath this pile of fabric. It's nice to always have a helper.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Baby Quilt Complete

The embroidered baby quilt is finally complete. I finished hand sewing the binding on this weekend and was able to take some pictures of it outside in the bright sunshine. It was a joy to work on knowing my little girl will have something handmade from her mama to keep her warm at night or to snuggle up with at nap time.

Here is a shot of the back of the quilt. I used the left over bear paw quilt block to piece the back, along with the leftover fabric from the front sashing. The wonderful quilt blogs on the internet turned me on to pieced quilt backs and I just love them. Not only are they beautiful, it's a great way to use up every little piece of fabric.

When working on the front of the quilt I knew I needed 2 more blocks to round out the 7 days of the week blocks so the quilt would be a square. Since the embroidery was of little bears I thought a bear paw block would be fitting. I used this incredible book by Jinny Beyer to help draft the block. There is no way I would have been able to do it without her instructions. If you don't have it yet, this book is an essential to any quilter/sewer/designer. There are so many quilt blocks to use for inspiration. The first block I made was the one on the right. However, when it was done I knew the paw was to large and the block needed a frame around it. The orange fabric right next to the pink sashing was too busy. So I redrafted it to accommodate a border and still fit in with my quilt. Not one to let anything go to waste I just used the cast off for the back of the quilt.

Here is a close up of the Sunday block and the quilting. Im pretty new at quilting on my machine but this one turned out nice. I wanted something simple so I just followed the seam line.

To finish it off I always add a quilt label. I didn't always do this so there a few floating around that don't have one :(

I love the look of a hand embroidering the label. I think it adds a nice personal touch for whomever you are making the quilt for. I just choose a font and size I like in Word, then print it off and trace it onto my fabric with a water soluble pen. I most often do this on my back sliding glass door. I wonder what my neighbors think when I start taping bits of paper and fabric to it to trace?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Its a Secret

I hate when you read blogs and you have no idea what the people who write them look like, so without further is a picture of me and my little babe. You can see my sewing chaos in the background. Maybe one day ill do a post of my studio. Studio being a fancy word for a messy corner of my dark, wood paneled basement.

I am working on a surprise for a very dear friend of mine. Only its not so much a surprise any more since I can't keep secrets and already told her I was working on a secret project. Here is a sneak peek. I am trying my best to finish the baby blanket but this is calling my name. It is taking acts of extreme restraint not to run to the store to pick up supplies and start working on this. I made a new years resolution to not start a new project until the one I am working on is complete. That is working out only so/so since I make up all sorts of excuses to jump around.

Hmmm...what can it be?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beach Thrifting

I went to a wedding this past weekend in Deleware. My super awesome mother came with and we turned the week into a 3 generation vacation, with lots of eating, playing with my wee little babe, resting and shopping. We hit just about every thrift store in Deleware. I loooooooove thrifting, but my husband does not. What I refer to as my treasures he calls "other peoples old crap". I often have a hard time finding anyone who wants to spend and afternoon treasure hunting, so if you are in MD and would like to go drop me a line, pretty please. I have visions of what I refer to as my forever house, with a huge farm kitchen with open shelves so I can display all my stacks of green and white pyrex bowls, rainbow fiesta dishes and orange tupperware canisters. Throw in the perfect laminate and vinyl kitchen table set, which I have yet to find, and if I did I would probably only get into the house if my husband was in a coma or I bribed him with a shiny new pick up truck, and you would be living in a vintage paradise. Doesn't it makeyou feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I get all smiley and happy just thinking about it.

On our Deleware thrifting extravaganza I made some good finds. Here are a few pictures of what I picked up for a song.

A beautiful yellow vintage tablecloth. A new ham for sewing. I got this for .75 cents. Can you believe that? 2 sets of buttons and a brand new dresden plate quilt pattern.

A close up of the craziest buttons I have ever seen. Not quite sure where I am going to put these but I am sure I will find them a home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

So I Lied

I know I promised this blog was not going to be dedicated to baby sewing, but it seems thats all I have posted about. I just can't help it. Babies need lots of things and baby things are expensive. It's like wedding and funerals. The minute you tell someone you are getting married they jack up the price for whatever it is that you need to purchase. Here is a quick little project I finished one evening.

I needed some car seat strap covers and they were $10 at the local Target. I figured I could just make some myself with a few scraps I had in my stash for free. I found this great tutorial at The Sweet Life and was able to whip some up. Like Alisa said the hardest part is deciding on the fabric. The fleece was a freebie from my husbands Aunt Tiny and I figured it would feel nice against big fat baby cheeks. The floral I got on sale but couldn't tell you what it is. They turned out great and I just might have to make another pair for those unfortunate times when the baby spits up all over the seat.