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Christmas, sewing

Handmade Teacher Gifts – Christmas 2015

I am happy that I managed to make something for all of the kids’ teachers, even if it was somewhat last minute.  I had big plans for their primary teachers…lap quilts made with quilt squares that the students designed with fabric markers.  I even had all the coordinating fabric cut out ahead of time.  However, the student created fabric didn’t work out quite the way I had expected!  I ended up scrapping that idea and moving on to something a little simpler.  I also had to plan for a total of 6 teachers – 2 primary teachers, 2 math teachers and 2 science teachers.

For the primary teachers, I had a charm pack of Cotton & Steel’s Tinsel fabric and decided to make a couple of simple patchwork table runners.  They were simple and easy to put together.  I also have enough fabric to create two more…something to add to the Etsy shop for Christmas 2016!  I happened to have just the right colored turquoise fabric with red dots for binding…always great to use up a fabric that I wasn’t sure what to do with.


For the backing, I also used some fabric from my stash – some large red polka dots used as backing on my Red Sox quilt and some leftover Kate Spain Christmas fabric that I used on a Christmas table runner five years ago.


The fun part was rolling them up and realizing that they fit perfectly into wine gift bags!

Maybe it's a tease to put these table runners into wine bags but it was a perfect fit.

Maybe it’s a tease to put these table runners into wine bags but it was a perfect fit.

For the other four teachers, I made drawstring bags using Jeni Baker’s tutorial from her blog In Color Order.  I have used this tutorial every year for 4 years I think!  I added a little Target gift card to go along with the bag.  Once again, fun to use up from fabrics from my stash!



cottage, history, sewing

The Button Bag

When I was thinking about the things I wanted to write about the cottage, I asked my mom if she had any old photos.  I thought I had seen most of the old albums she had but the ones that she pulled out were a piece of family and cottage history I hadn’t seen before.  The albums belonged to her mother and sisters and they were from the late 1920s and early 1930s.  It was a unique experience down a memory lane that wasn’t exactly ours.  Mum knew who most of the people were and knew stories here and there that she’d heard as a child.  The photos were pretty well labeled with names and the places were places we knew but 85 years younger in the photos.  Her mother, my grandmother, had the most entertaining captions for her photos.  We had a great evening laughing at all their poses and trying to imagine a day when men wore 3 piece suits to spend time on the beach.


While we were looking at these pictures, we were sitting with another piece of history behind our backs.  Mum made pillows for her new leather couches and she told me she used some old buttons, probably from her grandmother.  When I asked her where the buttons came from, she brought out the button bag to show me.  The button bag lived in the old cottage and was there as long as Mum can remember.  Through the photos we looked at, we saw a picture of an original cottage with the caption that it burned in the 1920s.  What I’m calling the “old” cottage must have been brought to the site sometime shortly after that as it appears prominently in the late 20s photos.  Mum believes the button bag must have been her grandmother’s and continued to live at the cottage through the years and through the next few generations.



I dug through the button bag, trying to imagine where the buttons used to live, who might have worn them.  Some are obviously buttons from button down shirts.  Others look like they spent time on a coat or a dress.  It’s obvious that they are well used buttons, probably salvaged from well worn clothing, maybe more than one time.  Some are so worn that they couldn’t be used again.





Some of them are probably 100 year old buttons!  And I love that my mom not only still has the button bag but was able to use some of the buttons in the newest edition of the cottage.

We also checked out an old sewing basket…even I remember seeing that basket sitting around at the cottage.  Quite a collection of thread inside, with prices ranging from 15 cents to 50 cents.

The photo albums were a fun trip to the past through the eyes of my ancestors and the buttons and thread were a unique physical connection to most of those same people.  As I get older, I feel like I should be writing this history down as I hear the stories. Although my kids didn’t understand why I was taking pictures of old buttons and thread, someday they might appreciate the story (and hopefully I will have remembered it because I wrote it down) and hopefully they will still be able to dig through the button bag.

quilts, sewing

American Flag Pillow

Happy 4th of July!  We’re on vacation this week and the next couple but before I left (in the midst of packing) I decided I should make something new.

I started by pulling out all my recent scraps and organizing them by color.  Basically I got two things done at once with this – cleaning up the scraps and a bunch of piles of color inspiration.  I was thinking of making some scrappy blocks by color.  The navy blue scraps were drawing me in so I started with them.  And from there I realized I should make something patriotic – my scrappy version of a flag.


I decided to make this flag into a pillow so I worked with the dimensions of the pillow form that I had and came up with a plan.  The blue corner of the flag ended up a little too scrappy with some overly aggressive trimming at one point but I made it work.  I moved on and made the red stripes, which were kind of fun with some angled scraps I had.  Then the white stripes – I used almost every last scrap of white I had left, which is all the white I have…time to stock up!


While it’s certainly a little more time consuming to piece together the little scraps, this pillow came together pretty quickly and it felt good to start and finish something in a few days.  (Maybe because the last pillow I made I dragged out way too long.)  I thought about listing it in my shop but then realized I had the perfect person to give it to – my mom, whose birthday is on the 4th of July!  So this pillow hopped into a box and made its way to Maine in time for the festivities of my mom’s birthday and America’s.



We’ll be decorating a wagon for a parade and enjoying the festivities in Ocean City, Maryland.  We’ve got our patriotic gear on and are looking forward to enjoying the freedoms of this great country!  Happy 4th of July!


Jedi Robes

A couple of years ago, I bought some brown cotton/linen blend fabric that was on clearance.  It turned out that it wasn’t as much of a deal as I thought it was since the labeled price wasn’t the price for the whole remnant but per yard.  But I bought it anyway and it sat in a bin for a long time waiting to be used.

I had grand plans to make a Jedi robe with it.  I even bought a bathrobe pattern that I thought I would use.  For some reason I bought an adult size pattern thinking it would be easy to size it down.  I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea since I don’t know how to use a pattern very well in the first place.  So the fabric and the pattern sat around…they moved from Virginia to Tennessee with me.

For Christmas 2012, I decided I wasn’t going to go crazy making any quilts as gifts but I wanted to make each of my kids something homemade.  I decided to make Casey the first thing I had ever put in my bookmark list of “Projects To Do” which was a baby doll bassinet/basket.  And I decided it was time to finally make that Jedi robe for Jack.  Poor guy has been training for 3 years to be a Jedi and didn’t have a robe.

One of my favorite blogs, Diary of Quilter, made Jedi robes for her children and directed me to a tutorial to use.  I had looked at this tutorial before and I don’t know why I didn’t use it in the first place.  Maybe I just needed someone to tell me how quick and easy it was.


So, in an hour one December night, I finally created a Jedi robe for my little Jedi.  He was thrilled to receive it on Christmas morning and I think it has revived his Jedi spirit.  (Star Wars was on the back burner for few months.)


A few days after Christmas, we flew to visit family and the first thing he packed was his Jedi Robe and some inflatable light sabers so he could fight his Pop Pop.  We’ve been told Pop Pop went to Jedi training school with Master Yoda.  (I made sure he brought some regular clothes too.)  Since then, Jack has also slept in his robe and wears it for some amount of time almost every day.

Casey's Jedi Robe

In January, Jack asked if I had any extra brown fabric because Casey really needed a Jedi robe too.  I didn’t have any but I told him I would get some and I would make her a Jedi robe for her birthday that could be from him.  The second robe was even easier than the first to sew.

Jedi Casey in her cowboy boots

And now I have two Jedi that roam the house fighting the dark side…or each other, as the situation demands.


Belle Dress

Before I made the Cinderella dress for Casey, I made this Belle dress.  This was supposed to be the backup in case the Cinderella dress didn’t work out.  I decided to make it first because I thought it was a little less daunting than Cinderella and I could easily find the yellow knit fabric.

To make this, I used a combination of two tutorials.  At Crafterhours, I found this tutorial and got the idea to use the knit fabric for comfort, the peasant top and to give the dress its ruffles on the bottom with elastic.  I also found this tutorial at tidbits for a Belle dress and made the skirt part of the dress that way, using a front and back piece instead of several panels.

Belle Dress

I had to remake the top once because I was also trying to use a couple different peasant top tutorials and the first one was a little too small.  I liked the way the elastic made my skirt look all ruffly but I don’t think I was consistent enough in how much I stretched the elastic at different points.

Belle Dress

I bought the chiffon to add to the top and bottom of the dress but only ended up adding it to the top.  I tried adding it to the bottom but my piece wasn’t long enough to begin with and it really needed to wrap all the way around.  I always meant to add it on later, but I had to move on to making a Cinderella dress!

The torso is definitely a little long in this dress and overall the dress was a little long (but Casey’s constantly growing).  Casey wore this out on our first night at Disney World.  We went to Downtown Disney, had dinner and walked around.    Even though the knit is comfy, it would have been way too warm to wear for a full day at Disney.  Also, since it was a little long, we were trying to keep it pulled up with a sweater at one point so she wouldn’t trip over it.

Belle Dress with Accessories

Despite its problems, it’s just a play dress, it’s comfy, I learned a lot while making it and best of all, Casey loved it.  That’s all that matters!