Sunday, December 13, 2009


I have been on the lookout for matching nightstands for our bedroom since we moved to our new place. They were pretty low on the priority list for a while but they finally worked their way up to the top of my list.

I found these at my local Salvation Army. I probably paid too much for them, but they were in great shape, had a versatile style and could be dolled up with a new coat of paint and new hardware with pretty minimal effort.

The gray paint was purchased a while ago for another nightstand project and the new knobs were ordered from Anthropologie. I primed the nightstands with a spray primer first but made the mistake of using white primer, rather than a dark one. It took three coats of paint to cover up the primer, but that might have also had to do with the fact that I was painting without a lot of light. All's well that ends well though, since they are finished and looking good. Now I just need my hubby to carry them upstairs for me.

I won a pair of cut glass lamps on Ebay and am waiting for them to arrive and things should really come together.

Of course, I am already plotting on making a fabric covered headboard but that might have to wait a while...

Little Boy Blue

Here is the finished quilt for our friends' little boy due any minute now. I love the way it turned out, so simple but really bright and colorful. This is such an easy quilt to make with stash fabric and really doesn't take long at all.

I kept the quilting simple with two parallel lines on either side of each horizontal seam. I also cheated by buying pre-made bias tape, which is similar to the pre-made quilt binding I have used before but the bias tape is more narrow. It looks fantastic and is so quick and easy, and for someone whose craft time is based solely around the nap time of a 6 week-old baby, a gal's got to do what a gal's got to do to get the job done.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Back In The Saddle

I can't believe that it has been almost two months since my last post, which means that it has been almost two months since my last sewing project. A lot has happened since, most importantly, the arrival of a very cute little baby girl on November 1. We have spent the past month getting to know each other and not getting a lot of sleep. The little lady is starting to take some nice daytime naps and I jumped on the chance to get back on my sewing machine.

We have some wonderful friends in Amsterdam who are expecting a little baby boy any day now. I wanted to make the little guy something special and settled on a new variation of the last quilt I made. It is such an easy pattern and great for using up smaller pieces from my stash. The possibilities are endless on this style.

I cut all of the prints 5" wide and then varied the lengths. I sewed all of the pieces together to make on long strip and then cut it down into seven 40" pieces. I then cut the strips of white into two strips that were 5" wide, two that were 4" inches wide, two that were 3" wide and two that were 2" wide. The widest white strips are in the middle and the get progressively smaller.

I love this way this turned out and can't wait to quilt it. I am thinking that I will go with horizontal quilting lines that follow the seams, but don't hold me to that design. My machine is acting up and is going to get checked out on Monday. Good thing I have some other projects waiting around the house for to work on during these glorious nap times.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Little Dresses for Little Girls

It seems to be the year when all the babies being born in my life are little girls. And I have no problem with that, at all. Of course I would love any boy baby as well, but little girls are so much easier to make things for. I whipped a couple of dresses for our friends' new daughter and for a friend expecting her first daughter in the Spring, just to get her excited.

The pattern is Simplicity Newlook 6576. I love this pattern so much. It is super easy to make because there are only four pattern pieces to cut, maybe five, depending on how you want to finish the hem.
I have tried a bunch of different patterns and have found that using a lining for the bust of the dress is so much easier and looks so much better than trying to wrestle with bias tape around those little tiny arm holes. The bias tape never lies flat and just seems to look a little sloppy. I vear off from the pattern directions and finish the bottom lining with my overlock machine which takes all of two minutes and looks so great. Fast and easy, just like me.

I hemmed each dress a little differently. For the orange floral, I used my overlock machine to finish the dress and then sewed ribbon over the edge. It was super fast and looks great. It also gets me around the trouble I seem to have when hemming an A-line skirt that comes with the wider fabric needing to be tucked into the more narrow part of the skirt. I am sure there is a trick to it but I sure haven't been able to figure it out. If anyone has any tips, I am all ears.

I didn't take a close up of the hem on the dress above but if you look closely, you can see the hem I made with the same material I used for the lining. I roughly traced the curve and angle of the bottom of the dress, finished the top of the hem with my overlock machine and then sewed the hem to the dress, right sides together. I flipped the hem over, pressed it and then sewed the top of the hem to the dress, as you can see the seam in the picture above. I also top stictched the lower seam to give it a more finished look.

Now that I am getting so good with this pattern, I should probably start making my girl a couple of these. I love that it is so versitile and can be used with winter cordoroy or light weight summer cottons.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Working My Way Down The List

I actually have three running lists of things to do before having this baby. I could consolidate them but it makes me feel more sane if they are divided up by category, and naturally, one category is sewing projects. As I have lamented before, the early pregnancy and move really cramped my sewing style. Now that I am up and running, I only have a few more weeks to get caught up on my projects, including making some baby quilts for some newborn friends.

This quilt was inspired by a post from Pink Chalk Studio of a picture of a quilt she saw at the Spring Quilt Market. The post and image were tagged immediately and squirreled away as inspiration. Since I don't have a lot of time for a quilt top with intricate piecing, this seemed like the perfect design for something simple but different.

I also really wanted to use fabrics from my stash for so many reasons, but mostly because I have a lot of great fabrics that should be used and not just folded up for me to look at and move around the country. Seriously, I buy them and then refuse to cut. Lame.

The way I picked the fabric was actually happenstance. I was poking through my stash and realized that the 6 or 7 fabrics I would need for this quilt were already picked for me just by the way I had sorted the fabrics. If you look closely, you can see that I just grabbed fabrics from the right hand side, easy breezy.

And here is the quilt in all its finished glory. It does need a wash so it can get all crinkly and lovely but I am just too tired to wash it tonight and am too excited to wait until tomorrow to do the photo shoot and blog post.

I wanted a color pallet and prints that would be feminine but not too baby. If I had more time and less of a belly, I would totally make a larger version of this quilt for my house. It was actually so easy to do, I just might, but I might wait until after the baby is born before I wrestle another queen size quilt.

I don't know why it has taken me so long to do a quilt binding with a striped fabric cut on the bias - I absolutely love the way it looks and can't for the life of me figure out why I am not doing it all the time. It is just so cute.

This will go off in the mail on Monday to my new little friend in Brooklyn. Hopefully it will keep her warm this winter or at least provide a fun and colorful place for tummy time.

Fun With Furniture, Part 2

My in-laws are superstars. They have a great eye for furniture, great bargaining skills and love to share whatever they find with me! They picked up this chair for me recently and it just blew me away. It is such a cool piece and needed a little work, which is exactly the sort of thing I want to get my hands on.

My father-in-law fixed the crack in the side so well you can't even tell there was ever a problem but the upholstery needed to be redone. It was tired and the burlap texture was just too much for my cat to resist scratching.

I have been reading upholstery books and watching online tutorials about how to do more advanced upholstery over the past couple of weeks. I was ready to up my game from slip seats and benches to more complicated stuff. I did learn some great basic techniques from these videos if anyone is interested. And of course, now I want a long nose staple gun that can attach to an air compressor sooooooo much. Maybe Santa will read this post and think of me in December.

Here is the chair before:

And here is the chair after:

The seat for this chair was easy breezy but the back was a little tricky. It required that I take the entire chair apart, which wasn't really that hard. Because of my delicate condition, I needed my husband's help on this one and we decided not to rebuild the cushions since the back of the chair was a little tricky. I have a feeling that I will redo this chair again down the road and take it all apart, but decided to play it safe the other night by just adding fabric over the existing fabric and foam. Cheating, maybe, but it still looks good.

Here is the chair modeling with another recent in-law acquisition, the most lovely mid-century modern secretary in my guest room. I imagine my guests sitting in the chair, writing me love notes to leave behind after their stay.

This is definitely a project that went well enough but my skills will definitely be improved with more practice, but overall, I am really happy with the way things turned out. I used Amy Butler's August Fields decorator weight fabric for the redo. The material was easy to work with and felt strong enough to be stretched nice and snug without warping.

Fun With Furniture, Part 1

Redoing furniture has been an interest of mine for a long while. I was able to redo some chairs and a bench back in NYC, but that was about the extent of what I could in my tiny apartment. But now that I am out of the city, with access to all this great, really crazy inexpensive furniture that is just crying out to be redone and the space to finally work, I am finally getting to almost fully embrace my dream of redoing furniture to my heart's content. (I say almost because I am almost 9 months pregnant so I am slightly hindered by a giant belly).

Here is my first project - the bench. My in-laws picked this up at a garage sale and I quickly snatched it up from them. I wasn't in the market for a bench but I wanted an easy project that I could do as a warm up.

There is an upholstery supply store near me so I picked up some foam and dacron to rebuilt the bench and some new paint. I have plenty of upholstery weight fabric in my stash and ended up using some lovely silk that was given to me by someone special who also really loves fabric. She bought this fabric at ABC in New York and then gave it to me when she was moving.

And here it is looking all cute and fancy:

And here it is in it's temporary home in my bedroom. Since this wasn't a planned project, I don't really have a place for it yet. I imagine it eventually in my girl's room, once she has a room of her own, but that won't be for a while. I know I am playing fast and loose using silk with a small child, but then again, I am a risk taker.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Another Commissioned Quilt

My good friend asked me to make her niece a quilt back when I was still a New Yorker. We went to Purl together and picked out these fabulous fabrics, which were them promptly packed away in boxes and moved across the country. This design is becoming my go-to pattern - I love picking the fabrics and finding the balance in the block combinations, which are highlighted with the white frames.

The Echino fabric that my friend chose for the back is my favorite part of the quilt. It ties in the colors from the quilt top and more importantly, looks like I put a lot more work into the back than I actually did.

I apologize for the terrible quality of the pictures. I was rushing to take a couple of shots before the post office closed for the day. Maybe I will get some action shots to supplement my meager collection. I will keep my fingers crossed.

Thank You Presents

We have been blessed with amazingly generous friends who have shared and given us so much baby stuff. It has been such a huge relief because 1) baby stuff is expensive, and 2) I have no idea what a baby needs so having experienced parents share their knowledge is pretty awesome.

As a way to thank you, I put together a little care package for one family. I tried making some dolls again for the twin girls and a tote for the mom. I am sure the dad could use the tote too, but my money is on the mom claiming dibs on it.

The dolls are tricky and I am still on the fence about how I feel about making them and the final product. They are funky, that's for sure. I didn't bother to make a pattern (as you can tell from the differences between the two dolls) and wanted to make them close enough that it would feed twin rivalry but wanted them different enough that they could be clearly distinguished.

I hope they will hold up to some intense 1 1/2 year old love and kept them free of any buttons or other things that could get loose. I added a little apron to each doll because the little ones might enjoy untying the bows and I know the mom is going to just love me for giving her another job to do when she has to tie them back on.

The tote is super simple - I didn't line it and just sewed and trimmed off the corners of the to create a flat bottom. I love the fabric, which I picked up in Mexico.

Hopefully the family will like their homemade treats and will send me some action shots (hint hint).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coming Up For Air

Hello again! I know, it has been a long time and I have missed blogging and sewing so much. I am happy to report that I am finally settled into my new house and spent the past couple of days sewing again for the first time in months. I started slowly by hemming some curtains but couldn't wait to get involved in a more serious project.

I sewed this quilt top back in NYC but was sidetracked by some crazy morning sickness. By the time I felt good enough to sew again, I was packing my apartment and getting ready to move across the country. Then I had to wait and wait and wait for my stuff to arrive and to get the house unpacked so I could have time to sew. It was tough but being reunited with my sewing machines feels so good.

The quilt top is made from Denise Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope collection and a whole bunch of other prints. It measures about 95" x 95" give or take some inches and is backed in solid white muslin. I "cheated" a little and used pre-made quilt binding. I could have taken the time to make my own binding but I just needed to get this one done since I am in the home stretch of this pregnancy and am not sure how much longer I am going to be up for large basting projects.

Basting this quilt was good and bad. I finally have the floor space to spread out a large quilt for easier basting but working around a giant pregnant belly sure was tough. I bought knee pads at Home Depot and that made crawling around on the floor much more comfortable. I was tempted to take some pictures of me rocking the knee pads but decided out of modesty to refrain.

I am pretty pleased with the end result but more than that, my cute husband loves it. He insisted on putting it on our bed as soon as it came out of the dryer and taking it for a test nap. After doing all of the lifting and moving for me, I figured he deserved it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Quilt Mini Tutorial

Anne, this is for you:

I received a very timely request for a tutorial on how I made this quilt. It is timely because all of my sewing and crafting supplies are currently in boxes and waiting to be moved, which means my free time is spent packing the rest of my house and no fun projects to post here on the blog.

This quilt is made up of 100 charm squares plus an extra 44 squares cut from my stash, for a total of 144 squares. The squares measured 3 5/8". Since the charm squares were from Japan and measured in centimeters, I had to convert the measurements to inches, hence the funky 3 5/8" size. I use a 1/4 inch seam allowance and the measurements take that into account.

I created 12 rows of 12 charm squares plus 12 white rectangles. Before I started sewing, I laid out the 144 charm squares to make sure the colors and prints were balanced and looked right. Sadly, that is the extent of my artistic technique.

Between each charm square is a white rectangle measuring 3" x 3 5/8". I used the string piecing technique to sew each charm square to the white rectangles, which made sewing each row go so much faster. Each row started with a charm square and ended with a white rectangle.

Once all 12 rows were sewn, I cut 11 strips of white fabric that are 2 5/8" wide and the same length as the finished charm square rows. I sewed the white strips between the charm rows. I added a five inch border around the body of the quilt, making the finished quilt approximately* 80" square.

I went with free motion quilting and an easy binding. There is probably an exact term for the binding technique I used but all of my quilting books are packed so I am just going to do my best to describe it. I cut three inch binding strips and folded it in half. I sewed the binding onto the front side, with the raw edges lined up with the raw edges of the quilt. I folded the binding over the raw edge of the quilt and then I committed the mortal sin of machine sewing the binding onto the back of the quilt. If I was a good quilter, I would sew the binding on the back by hand but I am a bad quilter and by the time I am doing the binding, I just want the quilt to be done already.

After that, I washed the quilt to bring out all the great texture that comes with free motion quilting and have been enjoying it ever since. I hope this helps. Feel free to ask for clarifications if something isn't clear.

* I say approximately because I am of the school of Flying By The Seat Of Pants Quilting and don't do a whole lot of planning before I start quilting and usually end up with things working out a little more or less than what I expected and certainly never exact.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quilt Action Shots - IX

I just had to post this picture. It is only to show off my quilting stitches and has nothing to do with the cute little fingers and wrist wrinkles, nothing at all.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Project Crossed Off the To-Do List

I am finally finished with a long overdue project for some very special friends. This project started out a plan for a birthday dress for a one year-old but that didn't turn out so well. So being flexible, we reworked the plan and made some pillows instead.

* Although the pillows were modeled on my bed, no naps were snuck in.

Hot Quilty in the City

Here is my latest baby quilt, modeling in Bryant Park. If you look closely, you can see the Empire State Building reflected in the building behind the quilt. This quilt is being sent of to soon to be new parents that are waiting to be surprised about the sex of the baby. Hopefully they will like the neutral colors and it will get a lot of love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Give Away Winner

I took the "low tech" approach to picking the winner of the scrap giveaway by writing the numbers one through eleven on individual pieces of paper, folding them and putting them in a bowl. I then asked my very cute husband to pick a piece of paper. He picked the number 4, making The Robins Nest the winner of the scraps since she was the fourth person to leave a comment. Congratulations!

Thank you all so much for leaving comments. I am planning a cross-country move this summer and will have more scrap giveaways now that I know there are so many people interested.

Trying Something New

There are some very sweet twins who are about to turn one in a couple of weeks that need birthday presents. I decided to try something new and make them each a doll. Sadly, I ran out of stuffing so I could only finish one; good thing I have a couple of more weeks to get the second one done.

I just made up the pattern for this doll this afternoon and it worked out pretty well. The only thing I would do differently would be to make the arms and legs a little wider for easier stuffing. The face is embroidered because the babies are still so young that I didn't want to risk anything that might get pulled off and could be a choking hazard.

I am not sure how I feel about the face - I think the next face I make will get a little revision. To be honest, I was reluctant to put a lot of time into the embroidery because I did it first and wasn't sure how well the project was going to go over. Hopefully the little girls won't mind the funky eyes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Next Project

I am so excited to work on this next baby quilt. It will be a gift for a friend of a friend. The fabrics were picked out a while ago, back when I was naive and believed that my morning sickness wouldn't be that bad. Oh well, live and learn. The good thing is that the baby hasn't arrived yet and if I hustle, it can get delivered before the baby.

Since the parents don't know the gender yet, my friend and I picked out nice neutral colors that should work for any little girl or boy. The design is going to be may favorite, preppy quilt style - I just love the clean lines and white sashing. It is such a great way to show off the beautiful prints.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Anyone interested in a scrap giveaway?

I have a decent amount of scraps leftover from my last quilt top that need a home. The fabrics include a lot of Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope in red and brown, some My Folklore, a little Amy Butler and some other designers and solids.

The scraps consist of lots and lots of triangles measuring 2 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches x 3 1/4 inches, a bunch of approximately 12 inch long strips that vary in width, and a stack of pieces already sewn together.

All of these scraps have so much potential and the only reason why I am giving them away is that I am being honest about all of my upcoming projects and time commitments. It would be so much better to send them to a good home rather than have them sit in my scrap bag, neglected and lonely.

So if anyone is interested in some free fabric (I will ship it to you anywhere in the US), leave me a comment by May 27th. If more than one person is interested, I will pick a random winner. I really hope someone is interested in this. : )

Monday, May 18, 2009

She's Alive!

Hello again! I know, I know. I have been gone for such a long time, especially after such a great productive January. But I have a good excuse and it is called morning sickness. It turns out that everything, including sewing made me nauseous. Who would have thought that looking at a quilt top could make my stomach churn? Anyone else have this problem? The good news is that I am finally feeling better and am able to think about sewing again.

I do have some great action shots of my little friends modeling their new pants. I actually made these pants in early February but the thought of dragging myself off the couch and mailing them was just too much. Good thing I have a cute husband who took pity on our friends and sent the package for me.

The pants are bigger versions of the ones I did for little Julia and the reviews are a lot better. The waists on the larger sizes seem to be more proportionate and have plenty of growing room too. They look like perfect pajamas and lounge wear to me!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Quilt Action Shots - VIII

I received this pictures this morning and I can't stop cracking up. Here is the very cute couple modeling the Secret Wedding Quilt. What good gift recipients! They must know me really well because giving me actions shots is pretty much a guarantee that I will be making them more presents. Think of all the birthdays and anniversaries to come!

I even heard a rumor that new sheets and a new bed skirt were purchased to coordinate with the quilt. Hearing that actually made me tear up a bit. It makes me so happy to know that the quilt is loved and will be used. I think that is all any crafter ever wants to hear when they give a gift.

Enough waxing sentimental:

Love this "caught in a nap" shot!

And this one too! So cute!

And please let me assure you, the photographer kept things very PG by having a 19 month old toddler and a dog chaperon the shoot.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baby Pants Action Shots

So Baby Julia is already hard at work, modeling all kinds of fun things. I made her these Crescent Moon Yoga Pants as part of her baby shower gift. It is so great to have a baby close by that can actually test drive some patterns for me and Baby Julia is certainly doing her part.
The pattern was a little confusing, especially since it only calls for two legs and a waist band but I managed to muddle through. I used my overlock machine to sew the legs together and to add on the waistband. I serged the bottoms of the pants and then used a double needle on my sewing machine to hem them.

As you can see, the new born size is still pretty big for this two month old. Julia's mom assured me that the high-waisted look is in with the new born crowd so the pants were fine until Julia grew into them. So sweet. But then again. Julia is so cute, she could rock a potato sack and look adorable.

I made two more pairs for some bigger kids and will see how the bigger versions work, but it looks like I could definitely make the waist band at least half the width to keep the band out of the baby's arm pits. I would also make the waist band a little longer since I found it hard to stretch the band to match up evenly with the pants. The material I used a stretch cotton jersey that I picked up from Joann's that has a lot of give, but it just wasn't quite enough to work with the legs. It might be different with a different jersey but I think the way to go is to cut the waist band a little longer next time and the see how it lines up. That way, I can always make it a little smaller.

Here is the little booty shot. (I know! I can't stand how cute she it either.) It is pretty clear that I could cut off at least an inch or two from the body of the pants and reduce the width of the waist band and these pants would fit a whole lot better.

Stay tuned for more modeling sessions with Julia...

Quilt Action Shots - VII

OMG! Are you ready for this? These are so cute, I can barely stand it. Here is Baby Julia hanging out on her quilt. Again, it is pictures like these that drive me to make baby quilts. My heart melts and my ovaries explode just looking at these pictures.

She is so cute you don't even notice the quilt.