Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sew Many Gift Sacks!

So, I actually managed to whip up 14 gift sacks for Christmas!  I was not sure if I could be completed in time, but I paced myself and churned out several each day. I was very pleased with the result, as were the recipients.

I wanted to take photos of them in action -- all lined up in their glory and filled to the brim with goodies on Christmas day, but there was far too much excitement (as well as far too many little hands) about.  The task of capturing an image became apologies in the delay of presentation.

The reason for the sacks? Well, traditional stocking just do not work in my family. We tried hanging stockings, but the weight of the contents would simply send them crashing to the floor from their hooks.  So, we opted to lay stockings out on the floor for to remedy this issue. The trouble with this was that the "goodies" rarely fit completely into the stockings, and once 1 or 2 folks deposited their gifts, they were already brimming over. So now we were faced with little piles of gifts scattered about. We eventually started to use paper Christmas gift bags to contain everything, but I wanted to create something a bit more unique, stylish and personal...hence the sacks!

Each bag took up less than a half metre of felt and fabric. The embellishments were laid out and stitched on before assembly. I opted for trees or poinsettias for the women, snowmen for the children, and mittens for the men (I even made it so that you can slip a gift card in the mittens).  Satin ribbon finished off the ladies sacks, while gromets and cotton string tied off the men's.

These were quite simple to make, just a rectangular shape with side and bottom gussets--like a paper shopping bag.  I added some sparkly snowflakes to each (which was just plastic confetti, secured with a bead in the centre). I opted to line each one with a complimenting fabric to add a bit more body to the finished product, as felt alone would stretch and lose shape under the wear and tear of heavy contents or the rough handling of little hands. Hey, after the effort put into these, I wanted to get at least a few years of holiday use.

I hope this inspires you to create your own. Happy sewing!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love my Lug!

So, I got this mini duffle bag from Lug as a generous stocking stuffer from my older sister.  I love it! Rather, it was love at first sight.  I generally don't care for larger bags of any sort and I am quite tired of the oversized, slouchy bags that every girl seems to be toting about town.

I have been looking for a decent bag for which to carry my belongings. As it stands right now, I have a fair sized tote that I use to carry my wallet, keys, phone, etc...  I also have a lunch bag that I carry to work 99% of the time. Finally, I may carry a pair of shoes to change into once I arrive at work (no teetering down the sidewalks in high heels for sir!). If I am lucky, the shoes are small enough to fit into my purse, but those occurences are rare. Most of the time, I feel a bag lady, with so many different parcels hanging from my body. It is frustrating, awkward and makes it tricky to manouver when the subway train is crowded.  If I can sprint a fair distance without dropping any personal belongings or worrying about anything falling out of my bag, I am happy. I like to be contained.

Enter the Lug Tugboat mini duffel (shown above). I received one in pink, and I love it! It will hold all of my usual gear (previously noted) with room to spare and I don't look weighted down. The size is is just right and it does not overwhelm me. This is an important design feature to someone who has a small frame.

I had heard of Lug before, as I recall coming across some luggage straps that I purchased at a local bookstore... maybe 3 or 4 years ago. To some of you, this is not a rare new find at all and it is old news.  I guess for me it is a re-intorduction to the brand. It seems that since my last encounter, they have blossomed into a neat little offering of totes, duffels and travel accessories.  They seem to be a happy little company, with offices in Toronto and Dallas.

This is essentially what I have been looking for. Clean lines, easy to care for fabric (nylon that wipes clean--snow, rain? Bring it!), plenty of space to stay organized.  On my wish list? The RT Puddle Jumper (above) in rose pink (of course), and another Tugboat mini duffle in grass green or chocolate brown (can't decide on the colour...maybe both?).  I will use one for work, one for Boot Camp/yoga, and one for my GO Train travels.  For those of you that fear saturated or vibrant colours, they do offer more subdued options such as gray, teal, black and navy.  Check out their product offering and company info here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Made With Love...soon to be cherished

So, here is it is. Halle's quilt all finished and pretty!  The little madame will be receiving this on the upcoming weekend for her 3rd birthday. I am actually a bit surprised as how quickly it all came together. I would say that it took just shy of 8 hours to complete, working on it bit by bit a few nights a week. Mind you, it could have been completed in about 6 1/2 hours, had I moved a little faster and turned off the television.

The Tina Givens fat quarter bundles that I purchased online from Pink Panda Fabrics were even prettier than I had anticipated. I do have enough fabric left over to whip up a matching pillow sham. (We will see if I can manage to complete that in time).  Instead of traditional binding on the edges, I opted for eyelet trim for that extra sweetness.  This is for a sweet, tiny lady afterall. I really hope that Halle likes it and that it becomes worn in from many nights of story reading and dolly snuggling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Project of the Month: Personalized Holiday Gift Tags

I know, I know… I actually owe you 2 projects at this point! My attempts to deliver the November project had failed miserably. The month of November actually flew by incredibly fast, or so it seemed. I got caught up trying to do too much at home as well as dealing with several other issues. As a result, several things fell by the way-side (including my ability to blog). It’s all good now, and we can return to our regularly scheduled programming!

So here it is, the December projects (yes projects), of the month. I will provide the second project as a separate post, just to keep things neat. The first project is rather simple and is timely, as the holiday season is upon us.

Personalized Holiday Gift Tags
You will need:

  • Decorative rubber stamps (with ornate or abstract motifs, borders or patterns)
  • Alphabet rubber stamps (this is optional, as the letters can be hand drawn if you are so inclined)
  • Ink Pads (in at least 2 colours, one vibrant such as red or green and one basic, such as black. I recommend pigment ink pads, as opposed to water based ink. The result is vibrant colour and less streaky imprints).
  • Card stock or large pre-made tags
  • Scissors or Exacto knife
  • Ruler
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Glitter (optional- but fun & pretty!)
  • Craft glue
  • Fine paint brush
  • Hole punch

Step 1:
Determine the size of your gift tags. For the sake of this exercise, I opted for a 2.5” x 3.5” tag. Measure and cut out your desired size tag in cardstock or use your pre-made tag. If creating your own from cardstock, take a moment to punch a hole at the top of the tag, as this will be used for inserting the ribbon or twine.

Step 2:
Using your lightest coloured ink pad, load your decorative stamp with colour. (It is best to try our a few test imprints on scrap paper to ensure that you are loading a proper amount of ink.) Place your stamp in the centre of the tag, pressing firmly to ensure a solid imprint. Set aside and allow the ink to dry for a few moments.

Step 3:
Load your alphabet stamp with your dark ink colour and imprint directly in the centre of the previous decorative motif. Allow to dry. If you do not have alphabet stamps, you can hand draw your letters, or trace fonts printed from your computer.

Step 4:
Now is the time to add embellishments. Using a fine paint brush, apply tiny dollops of craft glue to any desired areas of your print. This can be applied along swirly lines, on the edges of the letters, whatever you wish. Carefully sprinkle coordinating glitter over these glued areas. Shake off the excess set aside to dry.

Step 5:
Once all ink, glue and glitter has had time to dry thoroughly, shake off excess glitter.  Insert ribbon or twine into to punched hole. Affix to your gift and enjoy!

I love making these gift tags, as they allow for a more personal touch. If you have multiple recipients with the same initial, you can colour code them, or as I do, use upper case for the adults and lower case for the children. These can also be hung on the holiday tree as keepsake ornaments (especially if made out of balsa wood)

-Add a layer of decorative paper that is slightly wider in dimensions to the back of the tag. This will create a pretty border around the edges.
-Affix eyelets to the ribbon holes for a more clean, professional presentation.
-Use various shapes for your tags (circles, squares, oval, etc…)


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pretty Pages... Part 2

But wait, there's more!  I gushed about how in love I am with my collection of clothbound classic books a few months back. Well, Coralie Bickford-Smith has done it again! She has designed beautiful covers for 10 more literary classics.  

These were available to order in Canada just this past October. It seems that Chapters only has 6 of the 10 titles available... so I will have to keep an close eye out for the remaining 4. Not only are these books that everyone should have in their library (and read at least once), they are also just gorgeous little works of art to have on display in your home.

So pretty...

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Want That!

The school-aged version of myself would have thought she had died and gone to heaven had she received this set of 500 Coloured Pencils! From as early as I can remember, I loved to doodle, sketch, paint…create! My parents can verify that while my siblings were running wild in the park, I was tucked away in a corner, fist full of crayons, drawing for hours on end. I still have this love of art and I occasionally make time for some creative bliss .

I thought I had hit pay-dirt when I received a Crayola Fun Caddy when I was about 7 years old! As a teen, I graduated to Prismacolour pencils, and during my years of post secondary education, I treated myself to the best quality pencils and markers that I could afford.

These 500 Coloured Pencils from Felissimo, are available through Social Designer. These are on my wish list (as in, I really have to believe that wishes do come true to ever expect to receive this as a gift!) One day, maybe one day…I will suck it up and treat myself to a subscription to collect all 500. Yes, this is only available through subscription, at a cost of $33 USD a month for 20 months. You receive 25 colours with each delivery. For details, click here.

Each hue has an inventive name like clown cheeks, apple jam and Kierkegaard. You can even purchase cool storage units to display your collection in all of it’s glory. I picture these on display in my eventual sewing studio/craft room. Oh, how pretty!

So here goes... "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Made With Love

For some time now, I have been very interested in giving handmade gifts for the holidays. This year, I have taken my first attempt in doing so. I can only manage this for one person (maybe two), this year. I have to take baby steps. If I start earlier next year, I should be able to have something for everyone with minimal stress and effort.

I wanted to make something lovely and sentimental for my soon-to-be 3-year-old niece, Halle. She is a funny, snuggly, little girlie-girl. She likes collecting like items, and toting them around the house. A bit of a pack-rat in training! She is often seen herding all of her stuffed animals, or gathering every single crayon in sight. Most of all, she likes her blankets, the more the better! Whether watching her favourite children’s program, or sitting in between mommy and daddy for quiet time, she is almost always tucked under a blanket…or two. So, I thought I would make her a little lap quilt for her snuggly moments and nap time.

I fell in love with the Tina Givens Fairy Tip-toes fabric. I did not want to make a quilt with such soft pastel and baby-like fabrics that she would soon grow out of the design. I wanted this to be something that she could grow with and easily have on her bed well into her 7th, 8th or 9th year. I loved the colour palette of this collection. Lucky for me, one of my favourite online fabric retailers carries some of the Fairy Tip-toes collection. I ordered a couple of fat quarters sets from Pink Panda Fabrics for an awesome price. It arrived super-fast and could not wait to get started.

I decided to go with a simple brick pattern layout for the design of my quilt. Not because I am too lazy, but because I am not a quilter, period. I did not want to risk wasting any fabric or running out of time. I was looking for the least amount of grief, but still allowing for a lovely result. It was all about simplicity. This is only my second quilt, after all (which reminds me, I really have to finish the one that I had started back in the Summer time). It is my goal to eventually become skilled at more complex designs, but that little adventure will be kept for another blog post.

I moved through the assembly quite quickly, cutting out my blocks and piecing them in one night. Last night, I had actually attached my batting and backing fabric. Tonight, binding... I plan to give this to Halle for her 3rd birthday, which is coming up in a matter of days. I will be sure to share photos of the little madame with her new quilt.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I've been a very good girl this year, Santa…

On my Christmas wish list, there are a few Amy Butler related items. I am well stocked where her books are concerned, so no requests there. What I would love is the pattern for the Liverpool Tunic (shirt, tunic, long & short dress)

I first saw this tunic about 2 years ago, when I received her Midwest Modern lifestyle book for my birthday from my fabulous fiancé (thanks honey!). There was picture of Amy wearing this tunic and I thought it was just lovely. I lingered on the photograph and even marked the page to reference easily at any time. Something about the style, the fabric, even the mother of pearl buttons that she chose. I just loved the tunic. I considered taking any old shirt pattern and modifying it to a tunic length, and of course, selecting some delicious Amy Butler fabric to sew it in. I never got around to actually doing that, but whenever I came across the page I mused at how I love the garment.

Well, the pattern for this beautiful shirt had finally been produced and has been available online through several fabric shoppes, like Pink Panda Fabrics. I was thrilled when this became part of Amy’s pattern offering! I have been deciding on whether or not to just buy it, but then I come to find that I would rather purchase a couple of yards of well-priced fabric instead. Especially now…now that my current focus will be on sewing gifts for others. This pattern will not likely be used until well after the holidays are over, so I can put off purchasing it for a little while.

I also adore the Memento Burgundy fabric (from the Amy Butler LOVE collection) that this is depicted in. There are so many things that I want to make with it. I have not been able to get my hands on some of this right now as it sells out quite fast, but I will keep an eye on it and snag a supply when I have a chance. I pretty much want to make this tunic exactly as it is presented. I will no doubt make a regular and longer length version in another colour as well.

So Santa, if you are reading this blog…

Monday, November 16, 2009 goes...

Finally, I have buckled down and I am about to start churning out all of my holiday sewing! I have organized  myself, cleaned up, I have made my list... just a quick trip to the fabric store and then it is all systems go! This includes a very ambitious task of creating 14 gift sacs (to be used as stockings) for my entire family. If I pace myself and commit to xx amount per week, I should be fine.  I also have the task of creating 2 lap quilts, to give as presents for my nieces. Luckily, one niece is just a teensy little thing (almost 3 years old), so the quilt will not have to be so large. She is a very huge fan of cuddling and has an obsession with blankets of any kind. I hope this becomes something that she cherishes.

I really wanted to give something handmade to everyone this year, but that is just not realistic at this point. Next year, will plan ahead and get started in say, June!  I hope for this to be the first of many handmade Christmases.  I will be sure to keep you posted on my progress and share my photographs with you.


Friday, November 6, 2009

How do I love thee?

This coat...the Amber Road Coat, at is one of the cutest coats that I have come across in a very long time.  I love it! I once purchased a sweater from Anthropologie some time ago, that has the same side gathered collar and it is one of my absolute favourite wardrobe pieces. This coat is so lovely and ladylike.  I love the vintage vibe and the oversized buttons.  Oh, how I would love to have this in my little collection!

This birthday girl may just have to treat herself...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

And Sew it Begins...

Christmas is just around the corner! I must be one of several people to tell you this by now and I would not be alarmed if you had the urge to throttle me for saying so.  Yes, it is still a number of weeks away, but I can honestly say that as each year passes, the holidays seem to come faster. It does not feel at all the way it did when I was a child. Christmas felt like it took 2 whole years to come and when it finally got here, I thought I was going to explode.  I remember how wiped out the adults would be as I listened to their comments about "having to do it all over again, before you know it..."  Such party poopers! I totally get that now.

This year, aside from getting any shopping completed as early as humanly possible, I am making it a point to incorporate at least one handmade gift for each person. I have a few ideas brewing and I will be sure to share these with you as they come to fruition.  Also, as mentioned in an earlier post, I have to get on with churning out some gift sacs (14, to be exact).  These sacs are serving the purpose of stockings and they have to be a particular size.  You see, stockings don't actually work in my family. The story behind the need for these will be explained in an upcoming post, no to worry.

And so (sew) it begins...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Now Read This: Sew & Stow

This is a book that I have borrowed from the library approximately 3 times! Why, you ask? When I had initially borrowed it, I flipped through it the same day, saw a few neat, common-sense ideas and I was really happy to have the book. However, I then set it down somewhere only to inadvertently neglect it for several weeks. Before I knew it, the book was due back... 

The second time that I had borrowed it, I took a very close look at the contents. I saw very cute projects, all around the theme of storage and organization. This time, I earmarked a few pages, but failed to begin any projects.

By the third time, it was just getting ridiculous! I borrowed it, again, and this time vowed to either use the book to it's full potential or be done with it for once and for all.  Something kept drawing me back to this book everytime I perused the stacks of hobby, craft and sewing books. Was it the fancy cover and the fact that this book stood out more than most?  (I have been known to be a sucker for packaging). Not sure why the reason, but I am pleased to have given this book another chance.

Sew & Stow: 31 Fun Sewing Project to Carry, Hold and Organize your Stuff, Your Home and Yourself, by Betty Oppenheimer is a book that really grew on me. As the title indicates, this book revolves around projects that produce practical everyday items to aid you in organizing your home, your belongings and yourself.  From a sewing caddy, to a wall organizer, or a lunch tote to a laundry bag, this book offers projects that are appropriate for sewers of all skill levels.  Though do I feel that the average novice can tackle the vast majority of these projects with little to no difficulty.  No new inventions here, just simple, useful items that can be created by most anyone. There are plenty of sidebar tips and information is frequent throught this book. Instructions are clear and well written and the projects are nicely photographed.  This is a book that I turned to constantly when my fingers itched and I felt compelled to make something, but my brain was lacking any concrete ideas at the moment.

My only caveat (and it may seem trivial to some), is that all of the lovely photographs of each project were grouped together in the first section of the book. Instructions for each followed in the later pages. This meant for quite a bit of flipping back and forth. No, not the end of the world, but I tend to want to have a constant visual along side my instructions (like when you are following a recipe). I had successfully completed a handful of projects, taking inspiration from this book, but adding my own additions or adjustments.  I often refer back to my teenaged niece (as she is a relatively new sewer), and this would be an excellent addition to her personal library. This is a great book if you are keen on making handmade gifts that are practical as well as appreciated.

I give this book 4 pink buttons out of 5!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Project of the Month: Travel Tissue Cozy

I am very pleased to have been able to deliver to you this project of the month! I had faced a few challenges (getting anything done) earlier in October, but here it is, my project as promised. Better late than never, I suppose... This one is very easy!

Cold and flu season is upon us and this could not be a more appropriate item.  This travel tissue cozy is very simple to make, practical and makes a great addition to school backpacks, handbags or business totes.  Or, if you are like me (an allergy sufferer), you will tuck it into your robe or sweater pocket so that it is close at hand.  These are great to have handy for keeping little fingers clean, dabbing a runny nose or containing a sneeze.

Instructions can be found here.  Each tissue cozy requires very little fabric and you can quite easily churn out several in just one hour!  Another great use for those fabric scraps and fat quarters. You can be as simple or creative as you choose.  Try adding a ribbon tie closure to the front, or as a pretty trim along the opening edges.  Perhaps a tiny patchwork version?  These make great stocking stuffers and affordable small gifts.  Why not not tuck one into a matching handmade cosmetics pouch? 

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Please Stand By...

It's been a very busy 2 weeks!  I had started a new job at the beginning of the month and my hours are now a bit later in the day than I am typically accustomed to. In spite of this, I swore that I would continue to blog on a regular basis. After all, I've had many musings, discoveries and creations to share... 

I was off to a pretty good start, being able to keep up with the blogging for the first week and then it happened... As each day passed, I was coming home more and more exhausted. I am dealing with the typical information overload that comes with every new job. Countless meetings and orientations... Who would have thought that listening and sitting quietly for the better part of the day could take so much out of a person?  Also, after 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer all day, the last thing that I wanted to do was sit in front of another at home. Before you knew it, I was falling asleep wherever my body rested. I abandoned my poor sewing machine, as I lacked the energy to sit up and construct anything.  I even neglected exercise for 2 whole weeks! This is not a good thing!

Well, I am over the initial wave of tiredness and the desire to vegg all evening.  I seem to have found my bearings.  I am back to a regular workout schedule, and I am back on the sewing wagon, now that my eyes are no longer too strained.  I feel great!  I will do my very best to post my (late) project of the month for October and continue to share my fab finds, ideas and creations.  Christmas is just around the corner and I have 14 (yes, 14!) stockings/gift satchels to sew (each, of course, as unique as the recipient).  Just bear with me, as the uptake may be a little slow.

Please stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I am an Amy Butler junkie! Love her fabrics, love her patterns, own all of her her! If everything in my world could be in an Amy Butler print, I would be a very happy girl.

I have been waiting patiently for the launch of her LOVE fabric collection for Rowan....  I am relishing the moment that I can place a generous order for the lovely textiles... to have and to hold. Fortunately, some of my favourite Canadian online fabric retailers will be selling this selection pretty soon (yipee!)

Well, I must be a very bad devotee, because I somehow managed to miss this little detail of the Amy Butler Desktop Collection for Mara Mi.  How did I miss this?!  Wasn't I on the website just the other week? Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bit of an obsession with stationery and pretty office supplies. This collection is so very me.

There are three colour ways (Aqua, Coral and Garden).  This collection includes everything you need to stay organized in style. Pretty binders, sticky-note sets, folio pads and desk trays... There are of course many more items to choose from. Details can be found here. As of today, I am enamoured with the Coral Collection, though if I could afford to buy every single product, I would in a heartbeat. 

Well done, Amy! Well done!
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