Friday, March 30, 2012

Cats and Dogs Rule!

This is just my opinion (I have no scientific data to support it) but I think that the vast majority of people love cats or dogs, or both!  That's why my friend Susan and I have just opened sign-ups for a new swap on Craftster called "I Love Cats or Dogs".  If you are already an established member of Craftster, I invite you to sign up.  If you're not, go ahead and start your Craftster profile so you will be ready for our next swap!

I'm excited to craft for this swap, and to see what everyone else makes, because there are so many different directions in which the crafters could go with this theme--we can use any medium, and make any item that we think our partner would like.  In the picture above you can see several cat pincushions/stuffies I have received in swaps (thanks wendiek, onegroovyday, and pjr107!), plus the beautiful painting of my favorite cat ever, Toulouse, which my daughter made for me for Christmas two years ago (thanks, Jenna!)

I've always found that dog and cat-themed purses (like the blue one above, and the two below that I just made this week) sell very quickly at craft shows and the local store that carries my work.  People just love cats and dogs!

Right, Q-Tip?

Right, Suki and Sake?

Right, Juniper?


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Helping Update

Last December I told you about my plan to start helping people I see when I'm driving in Richmond, standing near stop lights, holding signs asking for food or money.  I made up a bunch of packets of crackers, a drink, and a few dollars, and put them in my car.  The first dozen packets also included a small handmade card that said "Merry Christmas, God loves you!"  I've since realized that the card isn't necessary; I just say "Here's something for you.  Have a nice day!" or something similar when I hand out a packet.

I was so nervous the first time I rolled down the car window and held a packet out to a homeless man!  That feeling didn't last long though; after I'd done it a few times, it became really fun!  Now I scan the streetcorners as I drive along, and if I see someone standing there holding a sign, I try to time it so I will be able to stop at the light and give him a little gift!  (To be on the safe side, I keep all the doors locked and only roll down the window part way.)

I always hold the packet out with the money on top, so they will be sure to want it!  Last week, though, when my daughter was with me, we had our first refusal.  We were three cars back from the stoplight, and she held the packet out the window.  The guy looked at it and made a sour face, then rubbed his belly, and stayed put!  I took that to mean he had an upset stomach.  A moment later he had second thoughts, and approached our car; Jenna handed him the packet and when he saw the money and the drink, he was pretty happy about it, and thanked us profusely!

A few weeks before that we had our best reaction.  Jenna was with me again, and she held out the packet, and the young man came over, exclaiming "All right!  That's all right!!"  Then he thanked us about ten times, and as the light changed and we started moving, he ran alongside the car for a moment and yelled "I love y'all!!"

I keep a bunch of these "goodie bags" in the car all the time now, so I'm always prepared.  It's an easy and fun way to reach out and do some good in the world.  If you have the chance, you should try it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kindle Cover

In the March Birthday Swap on Craftster, I made a Kindle cover for one of the birthday girls.  She said she likes pink and gray, and things that are vintage or girly or sparkly, and I noticed a lot of cats on her Wists and Pinterest.  So I dug through my fabrics, and maybe you heard me scream for joy when I found this pink and gray cat print!  It's purr-fect!

It needed some sort of fabulous embellishment.  I know I love to get things that have been personalized for me, so I added her initial (H for Hannah) inside a scalloped circle.  The circle and letter were both cut from wool felt using my Sizzix machine.  I happened to have a clear plastic button that adds a little sparkle to the cover. 

Hannah had sent me a birthday gift just a few days earlier--she crocheted these cute little critters that she saw on my Wists!  They seem to approve of the Kindle cover!

I made up my own pattern for this, and sadly, my first attempt ended in disaster--the Kindle mock-up I made out of foam-core board could barely squeeze inside--I'd made the durn thing too small!!!  When I was feeling calmer the next day I made this one quickly and easily, and the Kindle fits!  Yay!  And Hannah LOVES it.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Alas, I now come to my very last day of this gigantic Seven Days of Giveaways.  I am posting early this morning so you don't have to keep checking my blog all day!!  I have enjoyed the excitement of all of you who have posted comments; this has been a wonderful celebration of 100+ followers, my blog's one-year anniversary, and my birthday!

Congratulations to yesterday's winners, Eclectic Dreamer and B Greene (again)!

I saved the best for last:  today, the first person to leave a comment (and email me your mailing address) will receive one of my zippered purses!  This one has cupcakes and plenty of pink on it.  You will also get one of my wool felt tie-on pincushions, and a couple of Martha Stewart party items.

The second person to leave a comment (and email me your mailing address) will win these three Michael Miller fabric fat quarters (thanks again for donating these to my giveaway, Susan) and a funky little zippered pouch with an underwater scene on it (below).

To all of you who follow my blog and read it regularly:  THANK YOU!  I have fun writing this and showing you what I'm working on, and I truly appreciate the comments you leave because they let me know that this blog is actually being read! 

I will now return to my regular schedule of posting something every-other-day.  See you on Sunday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Here we are on the penultimate* day of my Seven Days of Giveaways--Day Six!  Congratulations to yesterday's winners, kathy k and kay, both of whom have been trying all week to win something!  I'm so glad you both met with success yesterday!!

Today, the first person to post a comment (and email me your mailing address) will win this cute little handmade  fabric basket (based on a tutorial by Ayumi Mills).  You will also receive one of my watermelon-heart pins, and a very nice embroidery kit by Dimensions.

The second person to post a comment (and email me your mailing address) will win this pretty handmade zippered clutch with removeable strap, and three fat quarters of Michael Miller fabric (thanks, Susan!!)

Good luck to you all, and come back tomorrow for the final giveaway!

*Isn't this a good vocabulary word?  "Penultimate" means "next-to-last".

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This is Day Five of my amazing Seven Days of Giveaways!  Yesterday's winners are both doubly lucky, because Katie also grabbed a prize on day #2, and Wendie got one on day #1!!  The rest of you will have to type your comments FAST to beat these two!

Today I am offering another morsbag that I made as a sample for the Craft This Tote Round 2 on Craftster.  You will LOVE this bag, because it is so big and lightweight, you can use it for a lot of things besides shopping.  Just yesterday I used one to carry my packages to the post office for mailing!  In addition to the morsbag, the first person to leave a comment (and email me your mailing address) will win a zipper-flower kit from Laliberi, and a Michael Miller fabric fat quarter (thanks, Susan!)

Yesterday I gave away a monster pouch to both winners, and I still have one left!  This is a sunglasses/eyeglasses pouch, but I have a friend who uses one of these to carry her checkbook in her purse.  The second person to leave a comment (and email me your mailing address) will get this cute monster, plus three fat quarters of Michael Miller fabric.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you don't win today, you still have two more days to try again!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Wow, it's already Day Four of my Seven Days of Giveaways!  Congratulations to yesterday's winners, Twisted Truth and B Greene!

Today I have some monsters to give away!  The first person to comment (and email me their mailing address) will win this cute monster pouch with removeable shoulder strap (below)--I made it for my partner in the Monster Pouch Swap on Craftster, and realized just before mailing it that she is allergic to wool, and this monster has teeth made of wool felt!  Arggg!  So I made a different one for her, which leaves this one as a giveaway prize.  It is large enough to hold a Kindle Fire.  You will also receive a very nice needle punch kit by Dimensions.

The second person to leave a comment (and email me your mailing address) will receive the zippered monster pouch pictured below.  This was one of the "spokesmonsters" for the aforementioned Monster Pouch swap, so he is quite famous!  You will also receive three fat quarters of Michael Miller fabric.

Good luck to everyone!  There will be more stuff tomorrow!

Monday, March 19, 2012


Today is Day #3 of my gigantic Seven Days of Giveaways!  Congrats to yesterday's winners, Shannon and Katie!

Today, the first person to leave a comment (and email me their mailing address) will get the items pictured below: the apron I made as a sample for the Crafter's Apron Swap on Craftster, and a very nice embroidery kit by Dimensions, which makes a pillow cover.

The second person to leave a comment (and email me their mailing address) will get this handmade keychain pouch (pictured below), plus three Michael Miller fat quarters (thanks for providing these, Susan!)

Good luck to all, and don't forget to check back tomorrow, when I will be giving away some more stuff!  I am posting at a different, random time each day to try to give everyone an equal chance.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Congratulations to yesterday's winners, Wendie K and macky5331! 

This is Day #2 of my Seven Days of Giveaways, and I am offering the items pictured below:

The first person to comment (and email me their mailing address) will win this mini tote (a Wendi Gratz pattern) which I made as the example for the Craft This Tote (and fill it!) swap on Craftster, plus an embroidery kit by Dimensions, which is easy enough for beginners.

The second person to comment will win this handmade card case, made from beautiful cherry-blossom fabric, and three Michael Miller fabric fat quarters.

Good luck to all of you, and check back tomorrow for another chance to win!  I am posting the prizes at a different, random time each day, so people in all time zones will have a chance.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Finally, it's here--this is the first day of Seven Days of Giveaways! (Because my blog has reached--and gone past--100 followers; this blog will be one year old on the 28th; and happy St. Patrick's birthday to me!)

The first two people to comment (and email me their mailing addresses) will win the pictured items:

Commenter #1 wins a pink morsbag, a Laliberi coiled rose kit, and a Michael Morris fat quarter.

Commenter #2 wins an orange tissue-pack cover and three fat quarters of Michael Morris fabric.

If you are number one or two, please remember to email me your mailing address (click on my picture at the right to find the "e-mail" button.)  Then come back tomorrow to see what else is up for grabs!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Giveaway PREVIEW

Sometime yesterday afternoon, my number of followers hit the 100 mark!  I'm so thrilled about that, and the timing is perfect, because my Seven Days of Giveaways celebration (in honor of 100 followers, and my blog's one year anniversary) starts on Saturday.  Today is a preview of what I will be giving away.

The whole kit and kaboodle:

There's so much stuff it will hardly stay within the confines of this blog!!  Each day I will post a picture of that days' prizes.  The first person to comment will get one of the bigger handmade items plus an extra goodie or two.  The second person to comment will get three Michael Miller fat quarters (pictured below--THANKS Susan!) plus an extra goodie.

Below are some of the "goodies"--EK Success Brands craft kits and products that I received at the Fork and Talk event hosted by  Craft Gossip in Little Rock, Arkansas, last September. (They are having another one in April--I hope I can go!)

The fun starts on Saturday, March 17th and will go on for seven days.  Each day I will post pictures of the days' prizes, but the trick is, I will post at a different, random time each day, so whoever are the first two to see the post and comment on it (and give me their mailing addresses) will win.  Good luck to all of you!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Pair of Fabric Baskets

For the recent Fabric Basket Swap on Craftster I made this pair of baskets--one for my partner, and one for myself!

My partner said she likes the line of fabrics called French General (by Moda), so I purchased a couple of fat-quarter bundles from an etsy store called Quilt Barn Idaho.  She also said she loves linen, so I knew I would use linen for the outside and some of the French General fabric for the inside.  When the fabrics arrived, I was thrilled to discover that one of them had small panels with bird pictures on them--they were perfect for an accent on the outside of the baskets!  Hooray for serendipity!

The tricky part was sewing the bird panels and other embellishments onto the fabric BEFORE assembling the basket--I had to be very precise with the placement of everything.  Here's an in-progress shot:

I used this tutorial for this pair.

Usually I let the fabric do all the "work" of making the object look interesting, but this time I had so much fun arranging the different elements of detail on the outside.  It was a wonderful learning experience for me.

I hope this will inspire you to try something similar, and if you do, I'd love to hear about it!

I want to remind you that starting this coming Saturday, March 17th, I will begin my humongous "Seven Days of Giveaways"!!  On Thursday I will post pictures of all the loot I will be giving away, so be sure to check it out!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Pincushion for an Angel... angel package, that is! 

My friend Susan has volunteered to be an angel for a swapper on Craftster who got flaked on.  (Flaking is the worst of all possible swapping agree to a swap, get a partner, receive her package, and then NOT SEND ANYTHING to her...that is just wrong!!  But a lovely Craftster member always steps forward to be an angel by sending a replacement package to the flaked-upon nice!) 

I offered to help Susan with the package, which was for the "Old Fashioned Romantic Swap".  Susan is decorating a pretty box, and she will fill it with romantic treasures.  My contribution is a pincushion featuring the swapper's favorite quote...I think it is from "Pride and Prejudice".

Here's how I started, with the quote printed out, a sketch of my idea, and some materials:

Using a micron marker, I traced the quote onto muslin, with the help of my light box.  The assembly was simple, just like making a pillow.  I sewed on the lace and leaves/beads before sewing the front and back together.

The leaves were easy to make; I just free-motion stitched on a piece of linen with my sewing machine, and cut them out, leaving the edges raw.

The little polymer clay bird on a pin was left over from a swap I crafted for last year; it is the perfect accent for this pincushion--didn't that work out well!

Susan will be posting pictures of the completed visit her at The Sloppy Sewer sometime soon!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cushion Covers Revealed!

I can finally show you the pillow I made for my partner in the Cushion Cover Swap on Craftster, because she received it yesterday!  Interestingly enough, I received from her yesterday too (even though I sent mine a week before she sent hers--what's up with that?), so I can also show you what she made for me.

In the swap, we all made covers to fit a 14" pillow form.  According to Maimy's questionnaire, she likes keys (among other things), and since she uses keys in her avatar, I used that as the subject of the cushion cover I made for her.   The colors are based on her preferences on her questionnaire, too. 

I have some brown fabric with keys on it, but I didn't want her pillow to be brown, so I traced them from that fabric and drew them onto the linen I used as the center of her pillow.  Then I outline-stitched each key, and looked at them for a while, before deciding that YES, I CAN fill in all ten keys with embroidery!

Each key took about 2 hours to embroider.  This was the first large embroidery project I've done, and I loved it!  It reminded me of coloring in a coloring book!  I am eager to do more embroidery projects, but at the moment I have a LARGE project with a ton of handwork that I am working on for the Invite Your Partner swap, so other things must wait a few more weeks until that is done.

After finishing the pillow top, I layered it with batting and backing, and hand-quilted around the edge of the linen.  Then I added a back, with a simple envelope closure (and a piece of velcro), and it was done!  Maimy says she loves it.  Yay!

And, here's what the talented Maimy sent to me, based on my love of koi and goldfish:

Isn't it gorgeous?  The lotus, and the head, fins, and center line of the fish are painted on using a hand-cut stencil.  The fish scales are a combination of embroidery, fabric, and beads, as you can see in the close-up below.

Here's the back of the cover, with another lotus.  I left the snap closure undone so you can see that she sewed on her personal label--that's so cool!

Thank you, Maimy, you did a fantastic job on my cushion cover, and I LOVE it!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dishcloth Surprise!

I just brought in today's mail, and look what I found--a wonderful surprise "thank you" gift from zkatom on Craftster!  She is one of the participants in the recent Fabric Basket Swap, to whom I sent heart-shaped pincushions as my entry in the Random Acts of Crafty Kindness challenge.

It's a beautiful, crocheted dishcloth!

She used my favorite colors, and incorporated my favorite symbol, a heart (on Craftster I go by the name "Leslieshappyheart")!

She also sent a note on a card with a hand-stamped image of a cat's face (cats are another favorite of mine).  One of my kitties needed to check it out!

Thank you so much, Shannon, this was a lovely and uplifting surprise!  I appreciate the time you put into it, the attention to including my "likes", and the beautiful crochet stitches .  I think I will use it on the kitchen table as a hot pad so I can see and enjoy it frequently.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Have You Seen This Frog?

I am desperately seeking more of the frog fabric I used on this bag:

The pattern is called "Ribbit" and it was manufactured by Waverly about 5-6 years ago.  I bought several yards a while ago, and this has been a very popular bag for me.  So popular, in fact, that all I have left is a small scrap.  The bag in this picture is my very last one.

Last week I got a phone call from a woman who owns a gift shop; she has been using and enjoying one of my frog bags for several years, and she wants to carry them in her store.  Not realizing I was completely out of the frog fabric, I agreed to make several and send them to her!  Later, looking through my fabric, I realized my mistake.  Yikes!  I quickly went online to search for more "Ribbit" fabric, and there is none to be found.  I had to call her back and break the bad news.  She was very quiet, then said that she had already called a customer--a lady who collects frogs and has admired the owner's bag--and told her that she was getting a frog bag for her!  It occured to me that I might possibly have one frog bag left at the store where I sell my work, so I told her I would go out there and check.  YES!  The very last one was still there.

If you have any of this fabric, I would love to buy it from you or swap you for it.  Or if you can give me any information leading to a place where I could buy it, I will send you a little handmade reward--how about that??

The shop owner still wants my bags, even if they aren't frog bags; she placed an order for seven of them (plus the one remaining frog), so I have a busy week of sewing ahead!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mollie Makes

About six or eight months ago, I noticed this new crafty magazine called  Mollie Makes.  It's fabulous!

On the cover there is always a big picture of a wonderful, hand-crafted something-or-other, like the crocheted veggies, knit mug cozy, and sewn journal covers on the magazines above.  The thing that made me buy my first issue was the craft kit attached to the cover--every issue has something new!

The latest issue that I have gotten, below, has a package of exclusive ribbon instead of a craft kit.  I'm a sucker for a freebie, and although I know I'm paying for it in the price of the magazine (which isn't cheap--$12 in the U.S.), I still feel like I'm getting a gift.

This magazine is printed in the U.K., so some of the advertisements are for stores I don't have access to, but it is still really fun to see those stores! 

Each issue has pages like the ones below, which showcase crafts and products of interest to those of us who are crafty-minded.  I get inspired every time I  look at it!

Every issue also has patterns and directions to make different things, like these crocheted wrist warmers that were featured on the cover...

or tattoo-inspired embroidery patterns.

This magazine feels new and fresh and "now".  If you are interested in crafts and crafting, you will probably love this magazine as much as I do.  I buy it for myself as a special treat!