sewn :: super-cute bee blocks (Mod Mosaic)

Twitterbee :: December Block #1, originally uploaded by earthchick.

So I’m currently in two virtual quilting bees, both scheduled to end in March. I have really enjoyed doing these and have learned so so much in the process.

These are my most recent blocks, made in the last few days for knittingbybicycle/Andrea . She sent this gorgeous assortment of fabrics in light and dark aquas and sunny yellows and golds, along with a chocolate brown, and asked for Mod Mosaic blocks based on this tutorial from Oh, Fransson. What a fantastic and fun block!

Twitterbee :: December Block #2

I’ve discovered over these last several months that I have two favorite kinds of blocks – the mod kind that invite an organic approach to layout and don’t rely on extreme precision, and the paper-pieced kind that make extreme precision possible.

I loved this block enough that I definitely see more of these in my future. And I loved this palette enough that I might have to copy it some day.

stitched: for Father’s Day (self-portrait bookmarks)

(Yeah, I realize Father’s Day was two months ago. I’m behind on my bloggables, okay? And I still have a birthday party – from May – to blog!)

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Amanda Blake Soule’s second book, Handmade Home , every since she announced it was in the works. It came out last week and looks great (though I don’t own it yet, since I might’ve blown my book budget lately on Sookie Stackhouse – yo, a girl deserves a few guilty pleasures on vacation, doesn’t she?). Before the book was released, Amanda offered a free pdf of these self-portrait bookmarks on her website. I thought they were a perfect Father’s Day idea.

The above bookmark was a gift for my dad. That’s Little Buddha’s self-portrait (drawn directly onto the fabric, then embroidered by me, and then sewn into a bookmark), with his name written on the left (from top-to-bottom). My stitching skills leave something to be desired, plus I am crazy-slow, but otherwise it was a great project.

(the flipside)

We also made one for My Old Man.
Father's Day bookmark
You’re supposed to mark the edges off with masking tape so that the child leaves a half inch border inside the rectangle. I didn’t do that, and not only did Little Buddha fill up space within that half inch border – he drew beyond the original rectangle. So this is a super-wide bookmark. Still, I think it’s a great little memento.

Tiny Dancer didn’t want to make any. He hasn’t demonstrated near the interest in drawing (and arts and crafts in general) as his brother has, and I didn’t want to pressure him. But while we were on vacation, he did finally draw his very first stick figure.
YIP.8.5 - portrait
I kind of love it.

sewn: for vacation (Simplicity 2609)

Hello from Georgia! We are on our summer travels right now, and I am without much internet access, but thought I’d take a moment to pop in and show off my new skirt – one I’m finally thrilled with.

So the Summer of Skirts continues. This is #4 in the series I think (#5 this year) and the last thing I finished up before our travels (I have sewed one more skirt while on vacation, which I hope to show soon). I haven’t been all that thrilled with any of my skirts so far – there’s always something I’m not wild about – but this one is a huge exception. It came together exactly as I’d envisioned, and it is so cool and super-comfortable.

This is Simplicity 2609, an elastic-waist yoked skirt. It includes three options for tiered skirts (sort of gypsy skirts) and two that are four-panel skirts). This is View D, the longer of the paneled skirts. The fabric is a beautiful white crinkly cotton with white embroidered flowers on it.

I got it at Joann’s in March and held on to it until I found a pattern that I thought would do it justice. And I think I have!

It’s a perfect casual skirt for staying cool and keeping comfortable in the Georgia heat and humidity.
52.something - summer afternoon, Georgia
Now all I need is a glass of iced tea!

sewn: for summer (Summer Blouse + another skirt)

YIP.7.15 – Summer Blouse, originally uploaded by earthchick.

I should’ve studied everyone else’s photos and notes before making my own, because it turns out that I had the same problems other people have had, but I was so anxious to get this done before leaving on our vacation that I just plunged ahead when I finally got a few moments with my machine.

This is the Summer Blouse from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. It’s the third thing I’ve made from the book, but it was the first thing that caught my eye. It is exactly my style, and quite similar to my favorite store-bought summer top.

Notes and mods:
1 – I didn’t do a button and loop at the top of the neck, because with this high of a neck I will never, ever button it. (if I make this again, I will be cutting the neck lower)

2 – I reduced the placket by about 4 inches (I did read other people’s comments enough to know that I didn’t want the placket cut as low as the pattern calls for). Even with the length I made it, I will have to wear a cami underneath.

3 – I made the bias trim for the neck out of the contrast fabric, but it would’ve looked better out of the main fabric.

4 – In fact I should’ve done the placket in the main fabric as well; I’m afraid the contrast fabric (a light green with tiny chocolate polka dots) doesn’t work as well as the main fabric would’ve.

5. I was not able to cut the pattern pieces from the amount of fabric indicated as laid out in the book. I had 1 1/2 yds of 43″ fabric, whereas the book calls for 45″ – but I don’t think it would’ve worked with 45 either, or it would have been very very close. I will post pics on flickr of how I finally did the lay out – as a result of it, I had to make the sleeves 2-3″ shorter than the pattern called for, which actually made them just right.

6. The length of this is a problem. As others have mentioned, it is pretty short. I really didn’t have any fabric to spare, so there’s not much I could’ve done about it, even if I had realized ahead of time. This shirt would be perfect for me except for the fact that it is about 3 inches shorter than I like to wear my tops. I hemmed it as minimally as possible, but it still hits higher than I like – much higher.

7. It’s pretty blousy, which would’ve been fine if it had been a bit longer. As it is, I might decide to add some darts in the sides or the back.


I’m bummed out about the length since I really LOVE this fabric (another cheapy cotton from Joann’s!). I could’ve easily bought more had I known at the time that I should make it longer (and that the pattern pieces weren’t going to fit on the fabric).

Summer Blouse

Other than that, it’s a quick, fun, easy pattern. I will likely make it again, with a few mods.

Oh, and since I sort of declared this my Summer of the Skirt, I did whip out another one of those, for the 4th of July.
YIP.7.6 - same bench, another skirt
Just a plain old drawstring-waist A-line skirt from red polka-dot cotton, drafted from Sew What! Skirts. I’m not wild about the fit, but the fabric was just too summery to resist.
latest skirt, detail

Hope you are enjoying these long summer days!

sewn: summer skirts (Simplicity 4138 & 2611)

52.2 – Happy Bench Monday!, originally uploaded by earthchick.

I started this skirt in April, with plans to wear it with my modified February Lady Sweater for Easter. But the lime green fabric didn’t look as good with the blue sweater as I’d hoped, so I stopped before putting in the waist and doing the hem (and made a white one instead).

I finally got back to the skirt last week and finished it up. It is such a simple little project – an elastic-waist, 6-gore cotton skirt. The fit isn’t as flattering on me as a classic A-line or basic straight skirt, and I always look better in a fitted (zippered) skirt than in one with an elastic waist.

I had thought I’d relegate this to my fabric pile, to use for something else some day. But after trying it on again to take some pictures, with a simple cami and no hose (would y’all believe I almost always wear pantyhose when I wear a skirt or dress?), I realized that it makes a great knock-around-the-house/play-around-the-back-yard kind of skirt.

And so it will be.
YIP.6.15 - new summer skirt
pattern:Simplicity 4138, view E
fabric: very cheap light green cotton with tiny flowers, from Joann’s

So I decided that maybe tee+skirt+sandals would be my new summer uniform. Which of course meant I needed to make some more skirts. And since Joann’s was having it’s big Firefly Sale last week, I was able to score some new $1.99 patterns and some cheap fabric. Several years ago, I spent a summer making a new pie each week – I started thinking maybe this summer I would make a new skirt each week. Except that I probably have too many other projects (including many other things I want to sew besides skirts) to be that committed.

52.3 - Another Monday, another skirt

Anyway, this is Simplicity 2611 – one of their "1 Hour" patterns. It took me longer than an hour, but I did bang the whole thing out this afternoon, so, close enough. It’s a yoked drawstring skirt – there are just four panels to sew together, then the yoke (with buttonholes for the drawstring). I had a hard time figuring out what size to make, because the finished measurements indicated in the pattern made no sense whatsoever – they were based on the size of the skirt before the drawstring had been tied, I guess?

So I ended up making it too big, which is better than making it too small of course. I know for next time to make this at least a size smaller, maybe two. (I will take this one in so that I’ll actually wear it – but I’m afraid it’s going to be a bit of a pain because of the yoke). I’m pretty sure that even when it’s the right size it’s going to be a fairly full skirt, so I’m not sure if it’ll be the most flattering fit. We’ll see. I’ll be doing more skirt experimenting, I’m sure.


sewn: for a pair of five year-olds (Pup Tent)

YIP.5.31 – Pup Tent, originally uploaded by earthchick.

Having finally conquered the birthday quilts, I was looking for some quick little something to sew for the boys’ birthday. This pup tent from Weekend Sewing fit the bill.

I waited until the Memorial Day Sale at Joann’s to pick up some outdoor canvas (because otherwise, 54″ home decorating fabrics are kind of pricey!). This pattern calls for 2 1/2 yards, and I think my final price was something in the low $20 range – much better than the $45-ish it would’ve been without the Sale coupons. (I have a thing about avoiding paying full price for fabric at Joann’s, because you can almost always catch something on sale there – either outright on sale, or with the use of a coupon – if you are willing to wait just a bit). Anyway, I thought this colorful striped fabric was just perfect for a backyard tent. Doesn’t it just scream “Pottery Barn Kids”? (I mean, except for the price tag – because if it were PBK it would be something like $99, yes?)

The pattern is straightforward, simple, and fast. Basically you sew three pieces together, make some loops out of bias tape, and sew the hems (with loops inside the hems). Get yourself a rope and some tent stakes, et voila! You can have yourself a campout. The book indicates that you can use aluminum needles instead of tent stakes. While that is a cute idea, it also costs twice as much – unless you happen to have some knitting needles lying around that you don’t mind jamming into the dirt. (I bought a set of 4 tent stakes for about $3.49, and priced out similarly sized aluminum knitting needles at $3.69 a pair – and of course you would need two pairs). There is enough fabric left over to make a matching outdoor cushion. I have the pillow form and plan to do this, eventually.

The boys got new sleeping bags from their aunt for their birthday, so we are just waiting for some good weather so that we can have a backyard camp-out.
Pup Tent

sewn: Birthday Quilts, a year in the making (Easy Lap Quilt)

Fairy Tale Quilts, originally uploaded by earthchick.

So these were supposed to be for the boys’ fourth birthday. I worked on them with feline supervision.
365.7 - under watchful eyes
I ran into what I thought was a calamity when two of the fairy tale fabrics I ordered turned out to be canvas. But then Ashley told me I could totally use canvas for a quilt. So I did. (The one on the right has the two canvas fabrics – Jack and the Beanstalk and The Gingerbread Man – picked out by Little Buddha.)

I didn’t get these done in time for their fourth birthday. And then, having missed the deadline, I stalled out. I finally got them back out last month, and finished them with 8 days to spare before their fifth birthday. I love them very much.
Fairy Tale Quilt
pattern: Easy Lap Quilt, from Bend-the-Rules Sewing
fabrics: various, ordered from the folk tales section of reprodepot and some picked up at Joann’s
dates: late-April 2008 to late-May 2009

I really like the backing fabric, which is a mix of tales – Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, etc.
Fairy Tale Quilt, detail

I love pulling a new quilt out of the dryer, when it’s all freshly crinkled, and then folding it up, so that it’s all squishy.
Fairy Tale Quilts, detail

The quilts are great for using on the ground outside.
365.365 - working on my happily ever after

And they are perfect for cuddling.
Fairy Tale Quilts, in action

knitted, sewn: for Easter (FLS+skirt)

365.316 - February Lady Pullover

I shouldn’t have messed with perfection, but I had an idea I just had to try. The result is cute but not nearly as flattering on me as the original FLS with its sweet A-line shape and it’s great belled sleeves.

– converted from cardigan to pullover by working in the round, which then created a placket neck – I worked the pattern as written until I got to the part where I wanted to start the lace. Then I overlapped the front and did something like a three-needle bind-off except that I didn’t bind off, I just kept knitting. (I don’t know what the name is for what I did – I’ve never done it before or seen directions for it – so if anyone knows the proper name for the technique, let me know, okay?). What I mean is, instead of knitting into one stitch at a time, I knit into two stitches – one in front, one behind it – which had the effect of binding the front edges in an overlap. Then from there I worked the lace in the round, which made for a SUPER-quick knit. I did this sweater in 5 days.
– In making the sleeves shorter I needed to make sure they didn’t flare out way too much. So I worked some decreases before working the garter border; this created a sort of fluttery look to the sleeve. I worked a smaller garter border for the sleeve than for the waist because I felt like the sleeve needed to be a little more “delicate” at this length.
– I added a crochet border to the placket part. Frankly, I should go back and do this to my original FLS, because my garter edge leaves something to be desired.

When I first started working this, I thought I was going to button the top (I was still working out exactly how I wanted this to look), so I created two buttonholes, which I then had to sort of sew up when I realized I wasn’t going to do buttons. (At first I sewed buttons over them, but it didn’t look right). You can see that it doesn’t look great, but I think in real life it isn’t that obvious.

pattern: February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne
yarn: Socks That Rock, heavyweight, In the Navy, 1.5 skeins.
needles: size 8
cast on:March 12
bound off:March 17

YIP.4.12 - Easter Skirt
I spent a long time trying to figure out what sort of skirt would look right with my pullover. I wanted something with sort of a 50s feel but could never find a pattern that matched what I was seeing in my head, and I simply didn’t have the time to experiment with designing my own. In the end I went with this very simple elastic-waist 6-gore skirt, Simplicity 4138. At first I made one in a kind of light lime green but decided I needed a simpler look for the sweater. So this is a white fabric with tiny white flowers on it.

I usually prefer the fit of a zippered skirt but I decided to go as simple as possible this time, especially since the waist wouldn’t be showing. And WOW there is nothing simpler than an elastic-waist skirt. I put this whole thing together in less than an afternoon, from cutting to hem. Only then I had to go back and re-do the hem because in my long sewing hiatus I had forgotten how to do a curved hem. I will be making this pattern again and again. (It has multiple very cute variations as well. I made the simplest – view F).

February Lady Pullover + Simplicity 4138
Here’s the whole ensemble together. You can see that this isn’t the most flattering sweater on me. It clings at the waist – exactly where I don’t need clinging – whereas the original swung at the waist. I wasn’t sure what length to do the sleeves and feel a little meh about what I ended up with. Longer didn’t feel right but I don’t ever feel I can pull off cap sleeves either. And I wanted to make them long enough to show the lace, too.

I went with blue and white because there were a couple of young men I was trying to coordinate with.
Easter Boys
Of course I completely failed to get a picture of the three of us together, or one of our whole family. I was too busy celebrating and have a good day to worry about it though. But I thought they were mighty dapper. Saddle shoes+argyle is just always a win.

By the way, before I shared the mods I made to the February Lady Sweater, I got permission from the designer, Pamela Wynne, of Flint Knits. Pam was generous enough to share this design for free with the knitting world, and it is the most-knit sweater on Ravelry (for good reason!). But some people have taken advantage of her generosity for their own profit. Did you know that even when a pattern is free, there are copyright restrictions? Pam has stated hers clearly on the pattern.

Some LYSes (a lot, actually), have taken her hard work without credit and used it to make money. She has written about it eloquently here. Read through the comments, too. I have to say that reading the post and some of the really ridiculous comments (there were just a few – the vast majority supported what Pam had to say) made me sick and angry at people’s attitudes and practices. But mostly I came away from that post with a sense of pride in my fellow knitters, especially in Pam, Ashley, and Maryse, who just completely inspire me with their brilliance, articulation, and wit. Please take a moment to read everything and then spread the word: STEALING IS NOT COOL. And using someone else’s free gift for personal profit without permission is stealing.

And after you’ve spread the word, consider doing something else. If you have ever knit a February Lady Sweater, or are knitting one now, or are planning to knit one, consider making a donation to Pam. I didn’t realize there was a “donate” button on her free patterns page until reading through the comments on her post, and I’ve gotten so much enjoyment of her pattern that I went straightway and made a donation. What is the pattern worth to you? Individual patterns by indie designers usually run $6-10. Pam is not asking for payment or actively trying to get donations. I just think it’s a good thing to do. And it made me feel better in the face of greedy and shady practices to take some positive action, no matter how small. It was my little way to take a stand. I remain grateful for Pam and others like her who gift the knitworld not only with their talent but also with their humor and smarts.

And next time (and I’m sure there will be one), I’m going to knit the February Lady Sweater exactly as written!

reviewed: 2008 sewing

I better get moving if I am going to finish reviewing 2008 by the end of January, eh?

<a href="finished sewing“>

Turns out I have a few unblogged sewn projects. I kept thinking I would get around to it, but they were all such disappointments I kind of didn’t want to revisit them. I sewed three pairs of pants in a row, all Simplicity 4023, with modifications. I had success with that pattern in 2007, resulting in a pair of pants that is still one of my favorites. But I wanted to improve the waist, which was a drawstring. So for the light green and light blue pants, I installed a side-zip zipper. They fit okay but never felt quite right. Then the strawberry pants I did in such a rush (on vacation, in fact, in about an hour). I put an elastic waistband in them, made them too small, and made them too short in the rise. So, an all around bust (except for the adorable print).

Second verse, same as the first – I made My Old Man’s son Chris a pair of flannel pjs, per request, in December, and those ended up with a rise that was too short as well. Clearly my measuring abilities are impaired.

The odd black thing in the next-to-last square is a sort of stole that I made frantically at midnight before we left for our nephew’s wedding in November, just in case my Moonshadow Stole didn’t work out (thankfully it did). The fabric was a really pretty black and silver brocade that I intend to repurpose for something else some day.

I did the bulk of my sewing in February through June. Then my machine gathered dust until those last two items in November and December. I sewed only half as many things in 2008 as I did the year previous. I always have lots of things I want to sew, and I often buy the fabric for them too! But in the end I seem to be mostly consumed with knitting these days.

The only real sewing goals I’m setting for 2009 are that I want to learn how to use my serger and I intend to finish my boys’ birthday quilts before it’s their next birthday!

Celebrated: Halloween

Spider-Man and the Vampire

Spider-Man and the Vampire

Their costume choices this year didn’t really give me much to work with craft-wise. I had less than zero desire to craft a Spider-Man costume from scratch. I’m not big on character costumes anyway – this is the first year that either of them has wanted one, and he was set on it, so I got him one. I was going to make Tiny Dancer’s cape until Joann’s had one marked down so low I couldn’t resist. And seriously, he couldn’t have been cuter:

Vampire! (or, as he says it, Bamfire!)

Vampire! (or, as he says it, Bamfire!)

So I tried to get crafty in the accessory department. I thought Spider-Man really deserved a web. So I took this pattern and just made a smaller (and less accurate) version.

Spider-Man Web

Spider-Man Web

pattern: Spiderman-blanket
yarn: Cascade 220 Wool, in black, red, and blue, maybe 1/4 of a skein of each
needles: size 7
dates: October 28-30
notes: I am giving some thought to making the blanket from this pattern. I pretty much hate making blankets, but I know Little Buddha would love this. If I make it, though, I will double my blanket-making misery because I’ll need to make one for Tiny Dancer as well. If I do make it, I will use stitch markers and pay more attention to my increases and decreases, because I pretty much royally screwed those up in my haste. It’s a little hard to knit when you’ve got a 4 year-old checking on your progress every 30 minutes.
verdict: He adores it and carried it with him all Halloween. Actually, he plays with it every day. Yesterday he wore his Spider-Man mask and brought the web to the dentist.
Spider-Man with basket and web

Spider-Man with basket and web

I wanted to make Tiny Dancer a vampire bat to go with his costume. I knew he would be much less invested in the accessory, so I’m glad I didn’t invest the time in knitting him one – though I found a couple of super-cute patterns on Ravelry. (I pretty much hate making stuffed animals and toys as much as I dislike knitting blankets). So on Halloween morning, I whipped up this little cutie:

Flappy Happy

Flappy Happy

pattern: Flappy Happy
fabric: the pattern called for wool felt but I went with what I had, which was fleece
notes: It’s far from perfect, but for 20 minutes from first cut to last stitch (half of which was on the phone!), I’m happy enough with it. Tiny Dancer didn’t carry it much with his costume, but he is hoping to do a puppet show with it sometime.

I was also the snack parent for the boys’ preschool on Halloween, so I made this:

Rice Krispy Jack O'Lantern

Rice Krispy Jack O'Lantern

recipe: a double recipe of Rice Krispy Treats
pan: from Target
notes: Next year I need to at least double the amount of food coloring. It didn’t look particularly orange. But it did taste yummy! (next year I will also plan to do a little more with the face decorations)

It was a happy – but exhausting – day. I’ve been wanting to make my own pirate costume for the last two years, but it never seems to happen. So I just sucked it up and bought one. I failed to get a very good shot of it.

Pirate Wench

Pirate Wench

We had a great time. Hope you did too!

Vampire Boy with Vampire Daddy

Vampire Boy with Vampire Daddy

Trick or Treat!  (notice that Little Buddha is still carrying the web!)

Trick or Treat! (notice that Little Buddha is still carrying the web!)

after the haul

after the haul

Now, if you haven’t already, go out and vote!