Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I've been very busy and thinking a lot about teeth.

In my search for an image, I found a somewhat disturbing blog all about teeth.

Image by Tiffany Liu.

Back in a couple of days.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rewind: Frosted Silhouette Mirror Tutorial

A few months ago I wrote a tutorial for the online magazine Modern Handmade Child. I thought I would share that here in pdf form since these would make great Christmas presents too. It's a very simple way to make a gorgeous and timeless gift.

You can download a the tutorial here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monkey on the go

This has been one very busy October. I knew I didn't have it in me to make a complete costume this year. Heck, I haven't even finished the Jump Rope Dress (although I seriously only have to sew on a couple of buttons, pockets and hem it).

So when I saw a Scooby Doo costume at a yard sale, I knew it would be my monkey. I cut out an oval-ish shape of felt for the snout (?), hot glued on a piece of red bias tape for the mouth, cut out some circle-ish shapes for the eyes and ears, and hot glued the whole mess on. I think it took me about 30 minutes. So it's homemade and handmade and better than anything you can buy at Target (no matter how hard they try to put us down!).

I will say this: I have bought Halloween costumes at Target. I have spent lots and lots of time making various Halloween costumes for myself over the years. I have sometimes spent a lot of money and sometimes very little. But I will never, ever, ever, ever buy a costume from Target again. No more after holiday 90% off sales for me (although I used to love them so, sniff), no more pigtails or chicken hats for my cat (yes, it's true), no more fleece pumpkins, no more stripey socks or witch hats. You and me, Target Halloween aisle, we're through.

Goodwill, my love, we'll see you next year.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Upcoming Reviews

Due to the surprising interest in my previous dollhouse post, I decided to post some reviews of the actual furniture sets as they arrive. When we asked Zadie what her panda dolls would want if we bought a house for them, she said, "!" I love that about her. I plan to get a vegetable garden, a gazebo, and a tractor (she seriously asked for a tractor for the pandas, I don't know where she gets it). The dollhouse comes with a few pieces of furniture so we won't need to buy a living room set, rugs, or barstools (we'll call them tall chairs).

The dollhouse above is the amazing Villa Sibi Dollhouse. It costs $850. It's just a little bit out of my price range but I think given an unlimited budget, this would be the one I would get. I also love the Plan Toys Chalet. It's more realistically priced but still way out of my price range. I think I'm spending too much on the one I've chosen from Ryan's Room but I'll be supporting a local business with my purchase and that is important to me. I've also spent a lot of time researching the different dollhouses and I just keep coming back to this one. I like its simple shape and that it can be closed up. One reviewer said that her 1-year old had been climbing up it and it was still surviving.

The first couple of reviews will come from CSN stores. I first saw CSN when Rue Magazine linked to some of their products. I spent some time browsing around the site looking for a platform bed (still unpurchased). When they contacted me to do a review, I thought it would be a good way to see some of the items before Christmas.

I'll also review the Enchantmints mushroom stuff (specifically the bathroom because Zadie is obsessed with the potty like every other 2-year old), a Ryan's Room set (the patio furniture to meet our "outside" requirement), probably the Le Toy Van kitchen (how amazing is that teapot?) and hopefully a couple others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Interview with Nicole Vos van Avezathe

I am thrilled to present today's interview with Nicole of Follow the White Bunny. We first "met" when she posted about my little yeti dress on Feeling Stitchy. Now she has a yeti of her very own that was featured in Fat Quarterly magazine. Nicole is a very talented designer and does amazing embroidery. I love her whimsical imagery. Her designs are delicate and quiet but very powerful.

My favorite pieces of yours are those stitched on non-traditional fabrics like Joel Dewberry’s Woodgrain, the faux bois in bright colors, from the Aviary line (see the White Rabbit image below). Why do you sometimes choose these unusual backgrounds?

Generally I think that if you use the right fabric, whether it’s patterned or not, it compliments and adds to your embroidery work. When choosing patterned fabrics I only use subtly patterned fabrics so the print will not ‘overpower’ the embroidery work. And Joel Dewberry’s wood grain fabrics fit that description perfectly, especially the light yellow and green versions. I’m still clinging to a small stash of these! Lately I have also been using a lot of linen to embroider on, both ‘solid’ linen and patterned.

You recently collaborated with fabric designer Lizzy House, one of the first Project: Project interviewees, developing embroidery patterns for her Castle Peeps collection. What was that like? We use a LOT of Lizzy House around here.

I was so surprised when Lizzy contacted me! I had no idea she even knew who I was and what I was doing. I had already been admiring the sneak peeks of the Castle Peeps earlier this year so I didn’t have to think long when she asked me if I wanted to team up with her and work on some Castle Peeps Embroidery Patterns. Lizzy is very talented and her Castle Peeps designs were very suitable to translate into Embroidery Patterns. I found the whole thing very inspiring, especially to work with the simple shapes of which these Peeps are made up and the vibrant colours.

Why do you base some of your patterns on fairy tales and children’s stories like the Princess and the Pea and the white rabbit from Alice in wonderland?

I find inspiration in many things, including tales and books! I must confess that part of the reason I chose the Princess and the Pea was because with all those 20 mattresses it fit my idea for an embroidery sampler so perfectly. I had no idea that this was such a popular tale though. I’m pretty sure it’s not all that popular over here.

I also like to make up my own stories around the patterns that I’m making or at least make my patterns look like they are part of a story. Like my Bear and Fish pattern, they are an interesting couple aren’t they? First I had just drawn the Bear but I found him a bit uninteresting on his own so I added the fish. The bear looks like he is gently stroking the fish but then…don’t all bears love fish… to eat I mean? The idea for the pose of the Bear with the Fish came from an old early 20th century French postcard. On the postcard people, not bears, were holding the fish though.

I was surprised to read that you are relatively new to the crafty world? Your style seems so refined.

It’s true I am quite new to the whole crafty scene. I studied Medieval History and after that I had a rather unexciting job at a Health Insurance company for a couple of years. Four years ago we moved to Norway (but I’m back in the Netherlands now) and there, having some time on my hands, I started to sew. Soon after that I started embroidering too. I’ve always enjoyed drawing so within a year after I held my first embroidery hoop I had drawn, made and sold my first embroidery pattern. I’m not sure if I would call my style ‘refined’ but I guess it’s recognizable and rather consistent in style and theme. Personally , I see a lot of difference (and improvement) in the stuff I did before and the things I’m doing now.

Your blog is a mix of both craftiness and home life. Is it hard to juggle a family and a business?

No it isn’t hard. It’s too small to cause any stress! I’m just making my patterns and sometimes I spend a couple of hours a day on drawing, embroidering or pattern making and on other days I buy groceries and do the laundry. If possible I try to plan ahead and take plenty of time for special projects or commissions and if things get a little busy I guess the housework suffers the most from it.

Thanks so much to Nicole for the insightful answers! I love learning more about my favorite artists and designers. You can buy her patterns here and read more about Follow the White Bunny on her blog. If you need the Castle Peeps embroidery patterns, Lizzy House has them here. All photos are courtesy of Nicole.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Giveaway winner announced

Congrats to Katie of Hippos and Dinosaurs who won a panel from Connie Lou Fabrics! You will be getting an email soon.

Many, many thanks to Constance for doing the interview and offering to give away one of her panels. I've really enjoyed having all these cute pictures on the blog.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Giveaway gentle nudge

Just a reminder to enter the giveaway for one of these amazing doll panels. The one in the photo is little red riding hood. Just leave a comment on the post. I think I will extend the deadline a few days.

In my real life I am researching teeth so I find this a fitting image for today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Christmas shopping (or how to buy wooden dollhouse furniture)

I spent my evening online searching for items to add to Zadie's Christmas wishlist. If I weren't so OCD, this would be an easy task: just add several of the Ryan's Room furniture sets to a list and be done with it. Alas.

We are definitely going with this dollhouse but there are so many cool furniture options and I had to do so much research (because I'm crazy) to make sure everything was a similar enough in scale as to not be ridiculous. The mushroom bathroom is from Enchantmints and the best prices seem to be on Amazon but I bet some of these online retailers will have some wicked cyber Monday sales.

We'll buy the dollhouse locally and also some of the furniture but just in case you're wondering, Plan Toys, Educo, Ryan's Room and the Calico Critters all have a similar enough scale. The verdict is still out on the mushroom stuff but I am going to make it work (I hope Tim Gunn hasn't copywrited that yet). Mama Panda will have a soak in that spa-like tub if it's the last thing I do (we already own the panda family and I have seen the set in person).

Edit: I thought I would add some more info since I have been researching this. While I haven't been able to compare all of the furniture in person, I have called several companies who carry more than one line and have asked them questions. Here is what I know about what else you might find in your searching:

Melissa and Doug - this has a scale of 1:12 or 1/12. So these pieces will fit in any 1:12 scale dollhouse (very common) but the people and the furniture will look a little weird in the houses mentioned above.

The Educo (Hape), Calico Critters, Ryan's Room, Plan Toys and Enchantmints do not technically have a scale and some of the items even within a set may not be true-to-scale. That is not an issue for me but it may be for the realists. (Since pandas don't generally wear clothing, we suspend our disbelief for better play).

Educo (Hape), Ryan's Room, Plan Toys and Enchantmints are made of wood with varying levels of craftsmanship. Educo (Hape) is very green and socially responsible and has the most trendy designs (very Asian styled). Plan Toys is another green company. The furniture is more modern with an additional contemporary collection. Ryan's Room focuses more on the educational aspect of their toys. Most of the furniture is very basic without a lot of paint. Enchantmints is top of the line in craftsmanship and really focuses on the gnome. They are very concerned with the safety of their products.

Calico Critters has sets that are made of HIPS, ABS, and non-phthalate PVC. Some of the stuff is made of wood. Because of that, there is a lot more detail but they are also more period-specific than other brands.

There are certainly other brands out there. I'm not interested in the lines that you can get at the big box stores because we have enough plastic in our house and more importantly, I want to mix and match and play with pandas.

Also, Target carries a line of wooden dollhouse furniture called Play Wonder. It's huge. Don't be fooled by the photos online.

Finally (for now), there are a few brands I know nothing about but have seen them on Amazon including, Le Toy Van (too expensive for my budget but cute, detailed, and well-reviewed - not sure of size), KidKraft (seems like the dollhouses come furnished - also unsure of size), and Pintoys (eco-friendly and adorable - should work with Plan Toys and Ryan's Room).

I will keep adding to this post as I find out more information. Feel free to leave non-judgemental comments.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Swap Inspiration

I have joined a swap. This is something new for me. When I was in grad school way back, I did a lot of ATC swaps. I needed to keep creative visually while writing all those papers. I still find that when I'm making something, the best ideas for other things come to me.

Anyway, this is the collage I made of flickr favorites so that my secret partner will know what to make for me. The composition isn't fabulous but isn't all this stuff great?

1. side show, 2. Back of the round top zipper pouch, 3. 1974 globe, 4. IMG_6101-2, 5. GI JOE Gnome, 6. embroidery hoop paper airplane wall art, 7. ursula :: completed, 8. personalized!, 9. hexie panda, 10. home., 11. Cloudy... with silver rain, 12. continuing on my little journey of discovery..., 13. playing with Macaroni Love, 14. gocco23, 15. Time for a Party, 16. germany 220, 17. embroidery/hoop up, 18. orion, 19. powerline quilts, 20. Castle Peeps in Stitches

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's never too early to think about Christmas elves

Today has been a particularly crap day at work and it's not even noon. I headed to Etsy for some retail therapy, specifically in search of Zadie's Christmas 2010 elf hat. Yes, I can make an elf hat. I know. But I think it might just be my own little tradition to buy a handmade one each year to start off the season right.

Last year I bought this cute white one from Swirly Hats. The striped one up there was a custom order from a seller who normally makes all this cute stuff for Blythe dolls. How awesome was it that she agreed to make this cute hat for Zadie? I just had to measure her hefty toddler noggin.

I did sew that fleece dress in the top photo. I think I used an existing dress as the pattern. I wish you could see the back. I set in some pearly Western snaps for the closure. The silver belt is just wide ribbon meant for wrapping packages and the fleece was some trim I had. I have a box in my basement of Christmas craft supplies. Silver shoes from BabyGap.

Last year I was way more busy so I didn't make anything she is wearing. The red velvet jumper is from Old Navy, as are the striped shirts in both photos. The black shoes are the standard MaryJanes they always have at Target.

This year I found an amazing corduroy jumper at a thrift store and at a different thrift store I found a white button-up shirt with GET THIS: red and white candy cane piping around the Peter Pan collar. Seriously! I am on the hunt for some green and white striped tights and if she is still in an 8, Zadie will wear her silver shoes and I'll make something to cover up the purple metallic flowers.

I am leaning toward asking a seller to make this hat in green. What do you think? I am sick of looking at pictures of those hats with the long skinny tails wrapped around them. Why are there so many? They are not elfin. No.

OK, if you're still reading, for Christmas I have a tutorial all ready for an easy Christmas tree skirt. I did it last year but it got too late to post it. We are avid elf book readers around here so I'll post all of our favorites with reviews. Of course, I have a few other things up my 3/4 sleeves.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On the Horizon...

Just a quick post today as I'm always exhausted on Monday nights. It certainly doesn't help when the little one wakes up at 5:30 a.m. complaining that it's so dark, she can't see her toys to play. Yes, that's because you're supposed to be asleep. Oh well.

So the news: lots of awesome interviews coming up. Is there someone you want to hear from or are there certain questions you want me to ask the artists? Spill.

Also, don't forget about the giveaway. Seriously, these doll panels are super cute and I love them. Facebook fans get an extra chance to enter. If you're not a fan, there is a quick link over there on the left.

Soon I'll post about Zadie's big girl room. I made a duvet cover for her, finished up the alphabet (for now) and made her name much cooler. I still have a couple of things to work on so that will all have to wait.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Connie Lou Fabrics Giveaway! - Now Closed

I'm happy to announce that Connie Lou Fabrics is giving away one panel from her shop to any reader. Check out her Etsy shop and choose which one you like the best and leave a comment on this post. I'll randomly choose and announce a winner Monday, Oct. 18. Please leave your email address or a way to contact you.

Thanks again to Constance for the interview!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Interview with Constance Kaiser

I spend a lot of time on flickr. I love looking at the stuff that other people make and their inspiration. One day I somehow came across these super cute robot dolls and superheroes. After some clicking, I discovered that the artist, Constance Kaiser, uses Spoonflower to print panels so that people can make their own. It's a wonderful project for people who are new to sewing or who want to make something quick; you don't even need a sewing machine. I was so taken by these little guys that I asked Connie, of Connie Lou Fabrics, if she would do an interview so we could learn more about her process. She has some really amazing items. I love the Little Red Riding Hood tote panel that has everything to make a little bag and all the characters from the story. She also has some holiday designs (like the Gingerbread Man below and a matching hand puppet panel) that can work throughout the year.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’m a stay-at-home-grandmother, with a husband, two grown sons and an 8 year old grandson. Most of my work experience was in the public sector: Director of a Head Start program, Legislative Aide at the Virginia General Assembly, etc. I have no formal art training or graphic art experience. But I am one of those obsessive artists, who sees everything as a blank canvas needing some decoration.

My mother loved to sew and I was the artist, so we combined to become sort of a craft-conspiracy. She would sew darling dresses for my nieces, then I would hand paint or applique on them. Though I consider myself a non-sewer, I learned to love fabric from my mother. I also have a beautiful collection of antique quilts done by family members (one of which won a first prize at the Ohio State Fair in 1932).

I like that you offer a basic print to coordinate with your more whimsical images. That’s not something that I see a lot on Spoonflower. Why did you decide to do that?

So I had been doodling, painting and crafting for sometime when I tripped across Spoonflower last year. I thought the idea of short-run, original design fabrics would be an extraordinary tool for crafters and seamstresses. What fun it would be to make a clutch from an original design and line it with a coordinating print, make a unique fabric baby bib and back it with a matching plaid, or add coordinating original design fabrics to a quilt. The possibilities are endless! I rarely work on a print that in my imagination when I’m not designing the matching plaid or stripe or print.

Your doll panels are such a great idea. My mom made lots of dolls from these panels for me when I was a kid, even a tote bag that I still have. Is this a nod to vintage?

In my first shop on Etsy I made and sold original design dolls and puppets. So I began thinking that those would be perfect to print up on fabric and then sew. Better yet, I print them and sell the panels to people who sew to make up. I’ve really had fun with the concept of panels or kits. I think that the difference between “Look what I bought for the baby” and “Look what I MADE for the baby,” is incredible. I never thought of it being vintage, but in a way I guess it is. Like when my mother and I worked together. I’ll be the artist and you do the sewing and together we’ll make something unique and original.

I’ve never seen images printed on fleece before. What is that process like?

I believe that fleece is God’s gift to non-sewers. You don’t have to worry about hemming or finishing seams or fraying. And fleece can be cut into all kinds of shapes and patterns; plus fleece is sooo soft for baby and toddler toys. Though I work primarily through Spoonflower for my fabric printing, and I love the Spoonflower community and all the technical bells and whistles that Spoonflower has, I go to another site to have my fleece printed. Spoonflower made it clear early on that they would not be printing fleece; they would only print organic fabric. I go to Fabric on Demand to have my fleece printed and the process is very much the same. I’m amazed at how crisp and bright the colors are, though I do lose some of the fine detail (that’s just due to the fuzziness of fleece). I think that soon all my pocket dolls will be done in fleece. The smaller the object being sewn and turned, the less fabric you want wadded up inside the little nooks and crannies. And with fleece you can work with a much smaller seam allowance and not worry about fraying.

So, what's on the drawing board?

I just can’t stop thinking about all the wonderful possibilities of printing your own fabric. I’m already designing the Christmas presents for my family this year. I’m going to take some traditional family holiday recipes, write them out on recipe cards, then scan them and make a print out of them. I plan to print up the fabric and make tea towels or hot pads for all my brothers and sisters, cousins, and nieces and nephews. How adorable will that be…“Aunt Jean’s Pumpkin Pie” and “Aunt Dorothy’s Creamed Onions” and “Grandpa’s Christmas Fudge”! I’ll also be adding some baby shower gifts panels and children’s apron kits to my shop as soon as the printed fabric arrives.

Thanks so much to Connie for the interview! Come back tomorrow because Connie has offered to give away one of her panels to a reader. Make sure you check out her other shop, Mini Monster, where she sells her finished creations like hand puppets and cool little monsters.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The PROJECT:project flickr group

I started a little group over on flickr for you. It's for all the projects that you've done that have been inspired by (or guilted into) from PROJECT:project. It's called PROJECT:project's Projects. Isn't that funny?

Hop on over and join. I just finished setting it up.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I am not going to sew a fancy pants Halloween costume for my kid.

I bought this Scooby Doo costume at a yard sale for 2 bucks. I ripped off the face and threw it into the back of my husband's Honda Odyssey because it creeped me out. I will cut out an oval from felt to make a mouth, hot glue on some eyes and some ears and be done with it. A monkey of sorts.

Doesn't this incredibly blurry photo make my bathroom look really clean and bright?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Is that safe?

So today I drove to a different state (not a big deal in WV as we're surrounded by like five other states) to meet an "online friend" in a dark parking garage in the middle of nowhere. As I was pulling into the very dark parking garage, seriously in the middle of nowhere, I had a moment of trepidation until I saw my friend with her baby strapped onto her standing next to her stationwagon with my new prized possession inside. Is this crazy? Of course it's crazy.

Sometimes I feel like no one in my "real" life gets me. I was just talking (actually emailing) with someone about this today. I feel super lucky to have friends in real life but also super lucky to be a part of this online community where people think it's rad to cut up some dead guy's jacket and turn it into a cape and to cut up dead furniture to make something amazing.

It was nice meeting you today, you know who you are. And it will be nice meeting the rest of you one day.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Upcycled Capelet Tutorial . Part II

First of all, thanks so much for all the positive feedback on this capelet. And thanks again to Kathleen of Grosgrain for designing the original pattern. It is such a great fit.

For Part I of the tutorial, click here.

We will begin with the lining.

Hem the straight edge of the FRONT lining pieces (shown above but covered with the next step). To figure out how much to turn in, place these pieces on the jacket fabric and measure. I turned the button edge in 3/8” as that is the seam allowance. But for the buttonhole side, you will need to leave room for the buttonholes and turn in more (see arrows). This measurement will depend on your jacket’s original buttonholes.

Take your warm fleece fabric for the muff/pouch and turn all four edges under ½” and stitch. If your fabric won't fray much, you could probably avoid this step. Or if you have a serger, that would be even better.

Place the fabric panels on the wrong side of the lining as shown. They should butt up against the edge. Topstitch them on taking care not to get the lining all bunched up.

Stitch the FRONT and BACK cape pieces RST at the long curved seam. Don't forget to leave the armhole open. Backstitch for extra strength at those points. On the original pattern there are marks and notes, "sew to here." I will make a note to myself by putting a pin in the other direction where I need to stop.

Stitch the FRONT and BACK lining pieces RST at the long curved seam. Leave the armhole open as before.

Remove the buttons and mark their placement. You will sew them back on later.

Next the place the lining inside the cape RST.

Prepare the hem. You will need to turn the existing flap of the jacket to the outside to ensure a clean edge. Then pin the entire hem and stitch carefully.

Stitch the collar to the lining RST, making sure to leave the neck edge open.

Clip both points off as shown. Turn inside-out and press.

Set the collar inside the cape RST as shown. The inside of the cape (the wrong side) will be facing outward and the collar will be nestled inside. Make sure that you attach the collar lining to the jacket fabric. Likewise, the cape lining will be attached to the jacket fabric. Then pin like you’ve never pinned before, starting with your center folds. Stitch carefully. If you get a pucker, just pick out the stitches around it and sew that area again.

Now the fun part. Pull the whole thing inside-out through one of the front openings.

Topstitch your neck seam so that it will lie flat.

Now finish up the construction by topstitching the lining to the cape. Leave an opening as shown so that the chubby little fingers can clasp on crisp Fall days.

Your buttonhole side should have the lining stitched just outside the edge of the original buttonholes. If you have a weighty tweed like the one pictured, your stitching will not show very much on the front of the capelet.

Finger press your bottom hem, pin and topstitch about ¼” from the edge.

Sew the buttons back on. Attach the hook and eye closure.

And it’s done! Please let me know if you have any questions. I know that a few of the photos are less than stellar. I am happy to try to fix any problems in the post.