Monday, July 30, 2012

Cute Outfit

I didn't intend to sew another outfit for my Blythe doll, Bonnie, so soon; but when I was working on a dog-themed heart for my heart blog, inspiration struck--I had seen dolls with headbands with an ornament of some kind... and a flat heart is an ornament...and I have cute scottie-dog fabric that would be a good doll dress...and I could put a scottie dog on the heart...and it became something I HAD to make, quick!

The dress is made from the same pattern as the one in the previous post.  The pattern includes two pockets, but I decided to make it with just one heart-shaped pocket (I wonder what a dolly would carry in her pocket?  I always have a ChapStick and a tissue in mine!)

To make the scottie shape, I simply took a scrap of the fabric with the dog on it, placed it on the black felt, and cut around it with small, sharp scissors.  I sewed the finished heart onto paw-print ribbon, and voila!  A headband! 

It looks cute, but the ribbon doesn't stay on her head very well, and the paw prints are rubbing off from being handled.  I need to come up with something better the next time I make headgear for Bonnie.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meet Bonnie Blythe

I'm excited about something new--it's a doll named Blythe.

I first noticed Blythe dolls on the swaps board on Craftster;  the doll owners were making and swapping clothes and accessories for their Blythes.  The clothes were really CUTE, and the accessories were FUN, and I wanted to make some too!  But first I needed a doll.

Takara, the company that makes Blythe, is in Japan, and they don't distribute the dolls in the U.S.  There is only one reliable Japanese store that sells them online--Junie Moon--but the prices there are pretty high.  The best place for me to get my doll was eBay.  I started watching all the Blythe listings obsessively, and reading all I could about collecting Blythe.  It turns out that there are a lot of fake Blythes on the market (made from inferior materials), so you have to be careful who you buy from.  Within a few days I saw the particular doll I wanted--"Raspberry Sorbet"--offered by a good seller in Hong Kong; and I didn't even have to play the bidding game, since she was offered as a "Buy it Now" purchase.

While waiting impatiently for her arrival, I continued reading about Blythe collecting.  There are Blythe blogs and online Blythe forums, and there is even a big Blythe convention taking place in Texas in August:  Blythecon 2012!  (Maybe I'll go next year?!) 
I also decided on a name for the doll:  Bonnie. 

Earlier this week, the mailman rang my doorbell, and I had to sign for the package.  I expected it to take two weeks or more, but she got here in about a week--wow!  The box was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string, and it was strangely pristine--I've gotten local packages that look like they've been on a long sea voyage, but this didn't have a mark, dent or crease!  Removing the brown paper revealed a plain brown corrugated cardboard box, and inside that was the prize:

And here she is (below), right out of the box and wearing her full ensemble.

I love the hat, coat and boots she came with; but the shirt and shorts she's wearing needed to be ditched fast.  Time to sew an outfit--yay! 

There are a ton of sewing patterns for Blythe online, most notably at Puchi Collective. That's where I found the pattern for this empire waist dress (below).  This is the first time I've sewn doll clothes since I had a Barbie as a pre-teen!  I chose these fabric colors to compliment Bonnie's hair and eyes.  Did I mention that Blythe dolls have changeable eye colors?  They do!  Each doll has four different sets of eyes, and they change when you pull a string on the back of her head.  I'll get busy sewing something to go with each color to show you in the coming weeks.

You might have noticed that her head is "slightly" large in proportion to her body.  All the more reason to make cute hair accessories for her!  I'm dying to make some pretty headbands and fascinators.  She also needs a bed... and a chair...and a table...and a house... and a...

If anyone reading this is a Blythe owner, I'd love to hear about your girl!  Leave a comment below or send me an email (

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Farm Critters

The package I put together for my partner in the Invite Your Partner swap on Craftster was so large, I've blogged about it four times already!  Today is the fifth, and final, installment.

My partner, miknessevie, lives on a farm and they have lots of animals, so there were a lot of farm-animal-themed things on her Wist.  I made these two felt badges for her based on things I saw there.

This little lamb appears in stuffed-animal form on her Wist, but it occurred to me that I could feature just the face and make it into a 3" badge.  The ears crack me up!

I myself am a chicken lover, so when I saw a chicken badge on her Wist, I had to make it! This is based on one that includes a lot of zipper teeth (you can see it HERE ), but I simplified it to suit my own style of working with wool felt.

I THINK that's the last of the felt badges for a while!  (But come to think of it, I have received some wonderful badges in swaps, and I haven't mounted them all yet...when I do, I think I will have to do another post to show you the new display!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pretty Apron

I sew a lot--every day, really--but I haven't sewn anything using a tissue-paper pattern in a loooong time...until I had a request from my partner in the recent "Invite Your Partner" craft swap on Craftster.  Jen asked for a "pretty" apron, because all of hers are boring and utilitarian.  She gave me a link to a picture of an apron she liked, so when I was in JoAnn's one day I looked through their patterns and found Butterick #B5125, a "See & Sew" pattern with the words "YES! It's EASY!" on the front.  It looked similar to the one Jen likes, so I bought it, and some fabric, and here's what I made:

I like the ruffle at the bottom, and the shape of the neckline gives it a "girly" look. (I also like having a beautiful model available for picture taking--thanks, Jenna!!)

I have to say that I didn't think it was super easy, compared to a lot of things I've sewn, but I'm sure that has to do with the fact that I don't like reading and following directions!  Adding the ties to the top was the tricky part, because that fabric also served as a binding for the side edges, and the directions didn't seem as clear as they could be...but I managed to figure it out.

I had enough fabric left to make these "Stay-Put" kitchen towels that Jen had on her Wist.  Now THIS was an easy project!  I used the tutorial at Pin. Sew. Press.  I bought a four-pack of white kitchen towels at Target, washed them, and sewed three strips of fabric to each, then threaded ribbons through the casings.  They are meant to tie onto the oven door handle, so they are handy but not falling on the floor every time you dry your hands.

Jen is happy with her coordinating apron and towels, and I gained a little experience with tissue-paper patterns.  Win-win!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Farm Play Mat

I had a wonderful time making this farm play mat for my partner in the latest round of the "Invite Your Partner" craft swap on Craftster.  Jen has four children and another on the way, and she had a picture of a similar play mat posted as a "favorite" on her profile page.  You can see a picture of that play mat by clicking HERE.  Since quilting is my specialty, it was obvious that I had to make this for her!

A bird's-eye view (and a cat's-eye view):

Below, you can see it in-progress.  With a little help from my cat, I randomly pieced together odd-shaped patches of upholstery and drapery fabrics, most of which I got for free, either from a friend (who gave me a sample book) or from the "free remnant" bin at an upholstery shop.  This was the perfect use for them!

I added the pond and stream after the top was together.  I just figured it out as I went along.  I like how the pond turned out, but I am unhappy with the shape of the stream; it should be narrower and more meandering.  Boo.  Next time I make a farm play mat I will remember that!

Of course, a farm has to have animals, and I found a small herd of these wooden cows online.  The brand is "Animalz", and they make a huge variety of was hard not to buy them all, but I liked the cows the best.

I machine-quilted the outlines of each of the fields and the water; then I got comfortable in my sewing chair and hand-quilted all the furrows with embroidery thread and great big stitches.

I hand-quilted ripples in the water too.  After binding the quilt, the last thing to do was add some bushes.  They are an assortment of green quilting-weight fabrics, made into yo-yos which I stuffed and hand-sewed in place.

I like this last picture the best...this is how Jen's children will see the quilt.  I can imagine them lying on the floor and inventing little dramas for the cows to act out.  I wish them many hours of happy playtime with their new farm mat!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Berry Bag

I made a cute little berry bag for a partner in a recent craft swap on Craftster.  She had it on her Wist, and she mentioned it as a big wish in another swap, but it didn't appear that she had received one yet, probably because the pattern isn't available online.  A little research led me to the pattern in this book:

...and because I was in a hurry and didn't want to wait for it to come in the mail, I decided to download "21 Sensational Patchwork Bags" to my iPad.  I wondered how I would copy the patterns, but I threw caution to the wind and went ahead and bought the download.

Just as I suspected, buying the e-version of a pattern book wasn't that great.  I ended up enlarging the patterns (to the size I though was right) on the screen, then placing paper on my iPad and tracing them.  The bag is made of two differnt petal-shaped pieces (one for the berry and one for the leaves), and I was surprised that the "test" bag I made came together perfectly!  The only problem was, I added interfacing (I seem to be addicted to interfacing!) and the bag was too stiff to close properly, so I removed the drawstrings and now I'm using is as a threadcatcher in my sewing area.  I love my "reject" bag!

The berry bag in the book is made of patchwork, but my partner had "Wisted" some that were made in batiks, so I used these beautiful batik fabrics for hers.

Making the little balls for the ends of the cords was trickier than I expected it to be.  It took a LOT of stitching around the tops to get the shape just right.

The bag is really small, about 4" wide and tall.

I used the same fabric for the lining as for the outside, but it would be pretty with a different fabric inside.

My partner loves her berry bag!

Going back to the book for a moment--I highly recommend "21 Sensational Patchwork Bags" if you have any interest in patchwork or bags.  There is a lot of information, and a lot of interesting bags in all sizes and styles.  Just do yourself a favor and buy the PAPER version!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My First Prayer Flag

My friend Susan and I have started a new swap on Craftster called the Prayer Flag Swap.  There was a recent article about prayer flags in the magazine Cloth Paper Scissors that we are using for our guide. 

There is a cool blog called The Prayer Flag Project  that is dedicated to these flags if you want to read more on the topic. The original idea is that the prayer flag is a small banner to be hung outdoors, that slowly deteriorates and releases your prayer into the world. With that in mind, you can see that it is not expected to be a masterpiece of perfect stitching. Rather, it is an art piece that is thoughtfully and prayerfully made.

One of the participants in the swap happens to be my partner in another swap, and she suggested that we also exchange prayer flags.  I liked the idea because it would give me a chance to practice before the actual prayer flag swap started!  I decided to make it collage-style, with all the edges left unfinished.  Since my partner has a picture of a field of lavender for her avatar on Craftster, I used that as my inspiration as I gathered fabrics from my stash, and started cutting.  Here is an in-progress shot, before anything was sewn together:

We exchanged some possible words to use on our flags, so I used rubber stamps to write "prosperity".

I used machine-sewing to anchor all the fabric, and then I sewed on buttons and coins by hand.  I am extremely pleased with this first prayer flag!  I love the freedom of cutting and sewing without worrying about finishing the edges.  After this one I made two more, which are currently in transit to my swap partners.  I will show them to you next week.

 If you would like to make a prayer flag yourself, here are the simple instructions:

How to Make Prayer Flags
1. Cut pieces of fabric to 5" x 11". Use materials you already have on hand.

2. Fold the top down on each piece of fabric and stitch in place to create a 3" sleeve, making the flag surface 5" x 8".

3. Paint, stitch, embroider, appliqué, or collage the flags.

4. Add words, journaling, or symbols as desired. You can appliqué letters, add hand stitching, stencil with textile paint, or just write with a permanent marker.

5. Thread the flags onto a string or cord and hang them outdoors so the breeze will catch them and spread your intentions.

It's all up to you as to what surface designs or stitch techniques you want to use on your flag.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mini Art Quilt

I decided to be brave this week, and sign up for the 4 x 6" Art Swap on Craftster.  What makes it a brave move for me is that I haven't really done any art bigger than an ATC recently (Artist's Trading Cards are 3 x 5") .  That may not sound like much of a difference, but I decided not to draw a piece of art this time; instead, I wanted to make some sort of fabric collage-type piece.

 In this swap, unlike most swaps, you make the art piece in your own style, rather than in a style your partner likes, because you don't know who your partner will be!  That made it especially fun, but it also left me without a starting point.  Usually I read my partner's questionnaire and something jumps out at me right away, giving me a direction to go in.  So I needed some inspiration.

I sometimes buy a magazine called Sew Somerset, and the winter 2012 issue (pictured below) was nearby, so I picked it up and paged through it. 

Wow, did I ever find inspiration!  On almost every page I saw something that I loved and wanted to use in my art piece.  It was hard to narrow my focus, but I finally decided to do something with a house, like the one on the cover, above, and a collage element, like the two pictured below.  I started pulling fabrics off the shelves in my sewing room, and I cut and arranged and finally sewed it all together...

...and I ended up with this:

The funny thing is, it really looks NOTHING like either of the pieces I was using for inspiration!  The only thing that is the same is the word "Home" from the houses on the magazine cover.

I love bright colors, so it's hard for me not to reach for them when I'm free to choose anything I want.  I left all the edges raw, with many of the threads dangling.  I added some beads to the flowers, and hand embroidery to the roof and leaves.

This is just the first of what I hope will be many art quilts; I'm sure I will refine my style and color selection as I go along.  A year from now I will probably look back at this little art quilt and find it amusing; but I'm satisfied with it, and I hope my partner--whoever she it--will love it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ten More Bags, and a Big Decision

You might remember this post last April, when I did a "show and tell" of the bags I made for Dale of Dale's Floral Designs in the small town of Warsaw, Virginia.  She likes my bags, and so do her customers, so she ordered 10 more bags!  As she did with the previous order, Dale went fabric shopping and sent me a quarter-yard of ten different prints.  I made these bags, using fabrics from my "stash" to augment the fabrics she sent.

From left to right, they are Oriental floral, roses, Gerbera daisies, and cardinals:

Here we have hummingbirds, palm trees, and autumn leaves:

These are red berries, Christmas snowflakes, and leopard print:

Again, I think Dale did a great job of choosing fabrics, and I love all these bags.  (My favorite is the red berries!)

Now for the big decision.  I have been thinking about this for many months, and...

 I've finally decided to close my sewing business! 

What that means for me is that I will no longer spend long hours making large numbers of the same thing.  This will free me to be more creative with my sewing (for myself, family, friends, and swaps), and it will give me time to explore the areas of art that I'm interested in.  For example, I just joined a facebook group called Art Abandonment, with members from all over the world who make pieces of artwork to leave in public places for strangers to find and take and enjoy.  I desperately want to abandon some art, but first I have to make something! 

So, I've told Dale that I will do one more bag order for her before I close; I will close my Etsy store as soon as I get around to it; and I've told Pat at Country Treasures that I will clear out my booth at the end of July.  (I got a phone call from her, asking me to bring in one more batch of my Scrappy Fabric Bracelets.  Apparently there is an older woman who comes in frequently, and she buys these bracelets for gifts...they want to be sure she has all she wants before I close!)

For those of you who are interested in the financial aspect of it...I will say that selling my handmade items has never been very profitable, mainly because I have a hard time charging what my goods are worth.  I have always geared my prices toward what the "average" person could easily spend.  When you add in things like paying for a business license, business property tax, self-employment tax, insurance, and the paperwork hassle of collecting and remitting sales tax, it just isn't worth it any more.  It's time to free myself from this!

I'm looking forward to making new things, and blogging all about them here! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fob Winners and Updates

Here are the three people who were chosen by the random number generator to each receive one of my wool felt scissors fobs:

True Random Number Generator20

True Random Number Generator

True Random Number Generator8

(After generating each number, I copied and pasted the results here; there were 56 comments, and I entered the number 56 as the "Max", but when I copied it here it reverted to the default setting of 100.  Weird!  Anyway, it generated the random numbers just fine.)

Comment #20 is from "Carla".  She will receive the bird fob.

Comment #6 is from "bethwalker07".  She chose the watermelon fob.

Comment #8 is from:  "linny".  I will send her a ladybug fob.

Congratulations!  I will be contacting each of you shortly.

And now, a few updates on past posts:

1.  My Blog is a Book:  I told you that I used Blog 2 Print to have all my blog entries from 2011 turned into a soft-cover book, which I was going to give to my mother.  You may have been wondering how she reacted to it, and the answer is, she LOVED it!!  She was very impressed with it and she read it from cover to cover, and commented on many of the things I had written.  It may be the best gift I've ever given her!  So now I can highly recommend this, especially if you have a relative who (like my mom) doesn't have a computer to read your blog.

2.  Octo-Bear:  After showing you this "interesting" creature I made for a partner in the March Birthday swap on Craftster, some readers wanted to know how I attached the legs.  Since I had received a special order for an Octo-Bear as a result of the post, I announced that I would be making another one and posting in-progress pictures.  Well, that order was cancelled (the young woman's car broke down so she didn't have the money for an Octo-Bear), so the leg-attaching tutorial will have to wait until some future date.

3. Amazing Amaryllis:  In January I showed you my pot of amaryllis bulbs as they grew into huge and gorgeous flowers.  Well, they continue to be amazing, because they are blooming again!  In July!  After having just bloomed in January!!!  The pot is on my front porch now, and in addition to the four-blossom stalk in the picture below, there is a second stalk starting to emerge.  These are some serious over-achievers, and I feel like I've been given an unexpected gift with this second round of blooms.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer-y Swap

The "Sew Something Summery Swap" is just finishing up on Craftster (that awesome online crafting community).  My partner said she would love a "funky bag" so this is what I sent her:  one of my signature bags made out of a fun and somewhat funky fabric; it has a lot of different design elements, and a lot of colors that my partner likes.  I thought the bird silhouette and the big flower made it look summery, despite all the black on it!

This is the back; there is a pocket in the center, but the patterns have disguised it.

The inside is a drapery fabric

I also made a small pouch using fabric from the same line.  The button in the middle says "I'm not weird, I'm limited edition" which is a quote I found on her Pinterest. 

Here's everything from a different angle.  I included a fat quarter of the black and pink polka-dot fabric because black and pink is one of her favorite color combinations.

She has received this package now and she's very happy with it!  She sent me a lovely set of placemats and coasters in return:

Aren't they gorgeous?  I love the colors!  This swap was a lot of fun...if you aren't on Craftster, you are missing out!  You can find me there under the name Leslieshappyheart.  If you sign up, I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Another Spoonflower Bag

After I made the Pug Dog Purse for my sister-in-law, her friend saw it and wanted one too!  The friend's favorite dog is a miniature schnauzer...which is perhaps not the most widely known dog breed...and I suspected that it would be hard to find fabric with miniature schnauzers prominently featured...and I was right.  So I returned to Spoonflower, where a wonderful designer called Dogdaze had created just exactly the right fabric for this project.  I had to purchase a yard of it because of the placement of the I have extra in case any of you would like a miniature schnauzer bag...anyway, the purse came out so beautifully, I am THRILLED with it!

I just adore the combination of aqua and black. 

I even had the perfect lining fabric in my stash!

I sent this purse to it's new home just before the July 4th holiday, so I haven't heard from the owner yet, but I can't imagine that she will be anything but pleased with it.