Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

learning to sew and french macarons


Soozs had a fantastic post last week about learning to sew. Among other things, she talks about how frustrating it is, but how with every mistake you make you are learning how to do something and how not to do something.  I remember screaming at the sewing machine when I first learned how to sew and there are still moments when I find myself swearing at the machine, or the fabric, or myself. Learning anything is frustrating as hell (just ask my 4 year old) but I think sewing has taught me to be patient with myself. So yesterday, when I was trying to make french macarons and failing miserably I went back to her post and read it again.


I used to make these cookies a lot when I worked in a bakery, but I had a professional oven and vats of ingredients and a huuuge dishwasher at my disposal.  I have none of that here.  My oven is very old and very crappy. These cookies are ridiculously delicate and difficult to make–they even have their own verb in french that describes the way you mix the batter.  So my day was spent failing (and eating my failures–sugar high! sugar high!).  But thanks to Soozs’ pep talk, I ended up with a few good batches.


And after a few more failures I now have a lovely platter of french macarons to take to a baby shower tonight.


Do go over to Soozs’ blog and read her post on learning to sew, even if you learned a long time ago.  And if you’ve joined the Kid Clothes Challenge (and yay there are so many of you already!) or are thinking about it jump over to this post about sewing for your kids on Indietutes because it’s pretty good too.  Now I’m going to see if there are any failures for me to snack on.

the alabama skirt and freezer paper love


The reverse applique swing skirt from Alabama Stitch Book by Natalie Chanin has been on my to do list for so long now, so long that she has written and published a new book in the mean time. I thought I might be able to make this skirt in time for easter, but it is far from finished. I’m not quite sure if it will work anyway. I went to Joann’s to get the cotton jersey called for and of course they don’t carry cotton jersey.  Poopy Joann’s, almost without fail they will be out of or not stock exactly what I what I go there for.   So instead of cotton jersey I got two different fabrics: the blue is a knit interlock and the purple is a rayon jersey. I don’t know if the blue is stretchy enough. I thought maybe the super stretch rayon jersey would make up for it, but then the fabric paint I got at poopy Michaels is hard and scratchy and it might keep the fabric from stretching even more.  Michaels used to carry the nice jacard fabric paint, but they stopped and switched to the cheapy kind. I need to plan ahead so I won’t have to go to these damn stores.


So we’ll see if it works. I might have to make it all again, but it’s actually been kind of fun so far. And I love me some freezer paper stencils. Printing this pattern over and over really makes me want to print my own fabric (for what, meg? more projects, really you need more projects?).  It wouldn’t actually be that hard now that I’ve discovered the lazy man’s way to use stencils.


and now for the lazy man’s freezer paper tip:

When I was making this skirt I didn’t want to cut 20 or 30 leaf stencils, so I cut 3 and used them over and over again.  I couldn’t wait for the stencils to dry between uses (time is precious! the baby is napping!) so I put another piece of freezer paper over the stencil, plasticy side down, and ironed over both. Then I gently peeled the top freezer paper off and voila! the stencil was ready to use again. The paint was still wet on the stencil, but as long as there are not glops of it, it won’t come of or bleed onto your fabric. The stencil might come loose a little in places when you peel off the top sheet, but this is the lazy man’s way after all, if you want perfect, well then do it your way miss perfect.

braided shirt

It seems that all anthropology and jcrew are doing these days is slapping things on t-shirts and calling it couture, then charging 60 bucks for it (see here and here if you don’t know what I’m taking about). I mean come on people, we can make this stuff.  Look!  I just turned into my mother before your very eyes! Shopping with her was awful (sorry mom) because no matter what I picked out she would say, “oh, you could make that.” Not necessarily me, I was 12 years old, but “one” could make it.  No “one” ever did, of course. Until 20 years later.


So anyway, a while back a friend invited me over to slap some things on t-shirts and call it couture. I came up with this braided number.  I think it actually was inspired by an anthropology shirt, but I can’t remember which one. I bought two 5 dollar shirts from Target and washed them both, one shrunk up really weird (only on one side–that’s what 5 bucks will get you) so I cut that one up. I started at the bottom and cut spiraling up to the armpits. The strip was super long and was about an inch wide. Then I cut it into three equal pieces and braided it.


Then I pinned it on, starting from the bottom and going up around the neckline, then back down the front and then I hand sewed that sucker on. I was watching a movie while I did it, so it’s a little uneven, but you can’t really tell when I wear it. I’ve got more anthrocopies (awesome word coined by the angry chicken!) planned, but that baby up there? he is just all over the place these days. So maybe you look to these people for inspiration while I go chase him down:

new bags

I put some new kiddy messenger bags in my etsy shop today. I am working on a pattern for this bag, but since this third baby came a long things seem to be taking three times as long, so you’ll just have to be patient. My daughter started insisting none of her drawings be folded, which they have to be in order to fit in her bag, so she’s asked (demanded really) a new, bigger back pack. I might just have to draw up another pattern while I’m in the pattern making mood.

I also put a couple new toy bags in the shop: one little people bag and one with a new car design.  And while I was working in my studio I found a lonely little bear in a pile of fabric waiting to be loved. Her name is Lucy and she’s made from a vintage sheet and cashmere and stuffed with wool, so she’s soft and super huggable.

If you are here from design*sponge, welcome! Take some time and have a look around.  I hope you all have a good valentine’s day weekend! See you next week.

new pillows

It’s been quite a while since I made new pillows and I always hate my couch a little less when I do. So I cut into this awesome Anna Maria Horner huge flower print and slapped some gingham on the back. 15 minutes and you have a pillow. Why do I put these things off for so long? The grey pillow is made from old felted sweaters. After making my bears, the arms of the sweaters are always leftover, so I have a box full of arms (creepy). I cut them apart and sewed them up in strips with the seams exposed. I’m not in love with it, but I’m happy I used them up. And my couch is happy too.