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I’ve Been a Busy Bee

The Earth Day Festival is coming up this weekend, so I’ve been busy since last weekend preparing. I have been focusing on making environmentally friendly items, and I’m loving how they’re turning out. I have been making tiny pincushions out of bottle caps and felt scraps, and it’s like I’m creating a tiny felt garden! I’ve been saving the bottle caps for awhile… I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to start making these little guys.

Pincushions made from bottle caps and felt scraps.

Also in the “I’ve been saving for awhile, why am I just making these now?” category: Wristlets made from recycled fabric.

Upcycled Wristlet

The fabric comes from a variety of places, clothing from thrift stores and from pants and shirts that are perfectly nice but for whatever reason are no longer being worn, thrifted vintage sheets, and from my giant collection of fabric scraps. Every sewing project generates scraps of fabric, and I haven’t the heart to throw out perfectly good, but tiny, pieces of fabric, so I save them for “someday.” Until someday comes, I risk being buried alive by fabric scraps and bottle caps and all the other little things I save to upcycle. Well, someday has come, and I’m glad I’ve been saving my scraps. The fabric scraps are particularly useful for adding applique embellishments to bags.

Upcycled Wrislet with Applique Mushrooms

It feels so satisfying to give something new life instead of trashing it. I just need to do it more often, so I don’t end up featured on an episode of Hoarders!

I’ve got lots more to make before the festival, so I better get back to work. I’d love to hear, though, how you use recycled elements in your art and craft. And what are your plans for celebrating Earth Day?

P.S. If you like seeing a peek of my projects in progress and what I’ll be debuting at upcoming events, check out my Facebook page. I frequently share mini updates there that don’t always make it to the blog!

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Just One Thing…

I walked into the fabric store yesterday with the intention of just picking up some purple fabric to complete a custom order. But then, of course, they were having a sale, and there were some great things in the remnants pile, and those little owls were calling my name, and and…

New Fabric
New Fabric (+ one kitty paw)

And I walked out of the store with a stack of new fabric.

When Roo saw me getting ready to take a picture of the pile of fabric, he hurried over to help me style it. Hence the errant paw. If he had his way, I don’t think there would be a stack of fabric or photo untended by him.

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So Very Cute: Embroidered Buttons

I recently received a ridiculously cute set of embroidered buttons from Mollie at Wild Olive. We were partners in the Feeling Stitchy Embroidered Button Swap, and I couldn’t have received a better partner. Seriously, how adorable are these little guys?

Embroidered Buttons by Wild Olive

I love them all, but I definitely think the little sock and the cube are my favorites. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to use them, because I like thinking about how I could use them so much. I don’t know if I can give them up. I guess I’ll have to wait until the perfect project comes along. Fortunately, Mollie also has an Etsy shop, so if I can’t part with this cuteness, I can always get some more.

Thanks, Mollie! You are so talented!

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Snow Day

A winter storm rolled in yesterday and it’s been snowing big, wet flakes ever since. While I love the dreamy, cozy feeling of being snowbound, the reality isn’t always so nice. Slippery roads and cars in the repair shop are not dreamy or cozy at all. The plan for tonight is to make up this Chunky Celery Soup and some warm homemade bread and maybe settle down for a movie with my sweetheart.

Staying home has given me some time to work on some new wristlets, though, and I’m so excited to share them with you! I’ve been thinking spring, and I think that’s evident here. Butterflies and other insects, pale pinks and greens, and richly colored french velvet ribbon. Some of the bags are adorned with the ribbon and some with pretty vintage brooches. Some of these are intended for S’more Couture, but if you see something you like, let me know. With all this snow, I’m not going to make it in to S’more Couture right away, so you could snag one of these bags first!

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Preserving A Favorite Sweater

I have always loved sweaters. One of the main reasons I love fall so much is because it means a return to sweater-season! So I’ve got a pretty decent collection of sweaters, and I wear them all the time. It breaks my heart when I have to part with one of them, because it no longer fits or, more likely, because it’s been worn to death.

One of my most beloved sweaters was a beautiful cream colored cable-knit sweater that my mother bought for me during my first semester at college. I wore it all the time.

Me and my sweater. Oh, and a friend. 😉

Like most beloved sweaters, it started to fall apart after years of constant use, and I eventually had to set it aside. I didn’t know how to repair it properly, but also couldn’t bear to get rid of it, so it lived in a closet for years. Then I had this great idea to turn it into pillows, and it continued to live in the closet, but now with a purpose!

Since I have quietly, and only to myself, declared January the month of finishing unfinished projects, I finally got around to turning that unwearable sweater into something special. I cut it (oh, it was so hard!) into two panels, and used them to create two envelope-back style pillow covers. I only had one pillow form on hand, so I quickly made up a second pillow form while I was at it. Years of sitting in the closet, and the whole project only took about an hour at most.

My old sweater, transformed into pillows!

Aren’t they lovely? Now I can continue to love my sweater, and I bet these pillows will last a long time.

As for the month of finishing the unfinished, I also spent less than an hour making a body pillow cover for SciFi Man out of fabric that has been waiting for just that purpose since last spring. SciFi Man is happy, I’m happy to get that project out of my pile, everybody wins! Other unfinished projects on the docket:

  1. A “charming handbag” from Bend the Rules Sewing that was cut out last spring but never assembled.
  2. A quilt for my bed, the blocks for which were cut out but never assembled.
  3. The zig zag quilt, which just needs a few more lines of quilting and a binding.
  4. Bread bags made from tea towels.
  5. Produce bags made from netting.
  6. 2 wristlets I have cut out, but not assembled (are you noticing a theme here?)

Do you have any unfinished projects you want to finish this year? Feel free to jump on my bandwagon!

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Favorite Fabrics of 2009

True Up, my favorite blog about fabric, has launched a meme inviting readers to share their favorite fabrics of 2009. There was so much good fabric in 2009, I’m glad True Up kept it all nicely archived to make my job easier. So here are 10 of my favorite fabrics (and related things) of 2009:

1. Favorite Organic Print or Collection

My favorite organic collection was definitely My Happy Garden from Cloud 9 Fabrics. I love this fabric collection not only because the prints are beautiful (love those puffy white clouds floating in a blue sky!), but also because of the story behind the fabric. Cloud 9 Fabrics (and the My Happy Garden Collection) are the children of one of my long-time go-to blog reads, Cicada Daydream. It’s exciting to be able to follow along with an blog friend as she begins an exciting new business and launches a lovely new fabric line.

2. Favorite Fabric Shop

My favorite fabric shop of 2009 isn’t even online, which breaks my heart, but is totally in keeping with the vibe of the shop. The shop is Treadle, in Bloomington, Illinois. Walking in to Treadle is like walking into my grandmother’s basement. The entire store is piled with so much wonderful fabric that it’s overwhelming. All the fabric muffles the sound in the store, so it’s easy to feel disconnected from the rest of the store as you wander down the aisles. It’s impossible to see everything in one trip. I’ve found traditional prints, vintage fabrics, and more modern designs all sharing space here. There are vintage trims and notions hidden in the back of the store, complete with vintage price stickers, suggesting they have been hidden in there since before they were vintage. Treadle is like a fabric-lover’s treasure chest! (Edited to add: It’s funny, I just stopped in at Re- and ended up talking with the owner there about how amazing Treadle is. She told me that they claim that if you ask for any specific fabric, they can take you right to it in the store. If that’s true, they are beyond incredible.)

3. Favorite Motif Trend

My favorite thematic trend of 2009 was the natural world. Many of my favorite fabrics focused on garden and avian imagery, including: the Shade Garden and My Happy Garden collections, Alexander Henry’s Fashion for Home, with it’s butterflies, birds, and ferns, Laura Gunn’s Lantern Bloom, and Erin McMorris’ Wildwood. So many beautiful outdoors prints, I bet they would come together beautifully in a quilt.

4. Favorite Overall Designer

My favorite overall designer of 2009 was Heather Bailey. I love her bold designs and color choices, in her old work and her new. Seriously, aren’t all of these fabrics gorgeous?

5. Favorite New Fabric You Worked With in 2009

OK, technically this one wasn’t released in 2009, but it was new to my hands in 2009. My favorite new fabric I worked with was Heather Ross’ Mendocino fabrics. The prints of mermaids, sea creatures, and kelp are marvelous, and the feel of the fabric is amazing. Considering that a large amount of the fabric I work with isn’t “designer,” getting my hands on some designer material and feeling the softness and the quality was a thrill.

6. Favorite Handprinted Fabric

Hands down, my favorite hand printed fabric comes from Australian designer Lara Cameron. Not just 2009, but in general, her hand printed fabric makes my heart go pitter-patter. Wouldn’t this Birch Forest in Robin’s Egg Blue print make amazing curtains? Of her 2009 work, my favorite print is Rooftops (in snow, on natural).

7. Favorite Novelty Print

My favorite novelty print of 2009 was this Princess and the Pea print from Heather Ross’ Far Far Away Collection. I always love Heather’s collections, and this one was no exception.

8. Favorite Quilting Weight Cotton Collection

Joel Dewberry’s Deer Valley was my favorite quilting weight cotton collection of 2009. It was a hard call to make between this one and Heather Bailey’s Nicey Jane, but in the end Deer Valley’s color palletes (Azure, Tarragon, and Persimmon) and excellent geometric prints gave it the edge. I love the combination of strong, straight lines and natural elements, like birds and (of course) deer. Within the collection, my favorite print is Antler Damask in Tarragon.

9. Favorite Fabric Company

My favorite fabric company of 2009 was definitely Free Spirit. I always love Free Spirit, but this year especially they were behind some of my favorite collections: Nicey Jane, Deer Valley, and Wildwood.

10. Favorite Digitally Printed Fabric

I have to say that I loved the Tetris Print designed by Jenny (with the help of a designer on Etsy) at Chronically Uncool and printed at Spoonflower. It’s a border print, so it translates into a really excellent dress.

So those are my favorites. What are yours? The instructions to play along are at True Up, or just check out some of the other lists people have shared!

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Upcycling for Re-

Upcycled Wristlets

This weekend I made up a few new bags to take over to Re-, as their supply of Anodyne Design wristlets was running dangerously low (hooray!). It’s been awhile since I’ve made wristlets from recycled fabrics, and I forgot how much I love transforming the unloved into the completely cute. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I did get three bags finished. Another one from the same white sweater I used before, and two from men’s dress shirts and twill pants. Instead of buttons, I accented each of these bags with old brooches I found at Goodwill. I don’t know if they’re technically “vintage,” but they are pretty and add a nice touch to the bags. And better they pretty up bags than languish behind a jewelry counter.

Wristlet for Re-

If you like these wristlets, you can find them at Re-, a cool shop full of all sorts of re-cycled, re-used, and re-purposed goodness, in the Peoria Metro Centre.

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A Growing Parliament of Owls

When does a parliament become an army?

My parliament of tiny owls continues to grow! I love these little guys, and making them has almost become addictive. I’ll be listing them on Etsy once I get some decent sun to photograph them in. Until then, you can expected to see them at the Fancy Schmancy Fall Festival down on the Peoria Riverfront this Saturday morning. And if you aren’t in the area (or even if you are!), you can enter to win one on my Facebook fan page. All you need to do is 1) be a fan and 2) write me a little haiku about anything you like. On Saturday, October 17th, I’ll choose two winners, one random and one who writes my favorite haiku, and each one will receive a tiny owl! I hope you’ll play along. Haikus are so easy and fun. (If you aren’t familiar with haikus, they are short, 3 line poems. They don’t need to rhyme. All they need to do is be structured so that the first and last lines each have 5 syllables and the second line has 7.) Good luck!

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Vintage Sheets

A pretty pile of thrifted sheets

So maybe I’m a bit of a follower. I’ve been seeing projects involving vintage sheets pop up around the Internet. Oh, Fransson’s! Vintage Sheet Swap (flickr pool) and Rec Room Pillows, the Vintage Sheet flickr pool, this great wrap skirt at Supafine, Cluck Cluck Sew’s vintage sheet quilt, and lots of cool projects on Craftster.   I got it in my head that I needed to jump on this bandwagon. So last weekend I cleaned out the linen sections at both Goodwill and the Salvation Army and came home with this pretty pile. I think these sheets want to begin a new life of service as reusable grocery bags, don’t you?

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It Wasn’t On The List

Of course, as soon as I share my Crafty To Do List with you, I go off and make something that wasn’t on the list. When SciFi Man saw, he said “What about the quilt? This project wasn’t on your list.” To which I brilliantly replied, “How do you know about my list?” I guess he keeps tabs on my blog more than I realized. That’s sweet.

So, true to form, I wrote a list and promptly deviated from it. I followed My Spare Time’s very nice tutorial for making a simple baby blanket. The tutorial was easy to follow, although I think my mitered corners still need a bit of perfecting. Good thing these blankets are quick to put together, so I’ll be able to practice my corners. And until they’re perfect, I get to keep the spoils for myself, which is awesome, because I love how this first blankie turned out.

Baby Blanket

The top is a now-unavailable Tracy Porter print in dusky pink with brown branches and flowers. It’s paired with a soft green apple fleece that I had laying around from another unfinished project, and bound with satin blanket binding in cream. So pretty! Yoda, always my blanket model, helped me out with a photo shoot:

The Only Baby in This House...
The Only Baby in This House…
"Be sure you get my handsome profile..."
“Be sure you get my handsome profile…”