Christmas Project Status and Open House over at Alewives

Okay, not a lot of posting going on because I’ve been busy getting ready of Christmas of course!  So, here’s what I’ve been up to, and some little information about a cool little Virtual Open House at my favorite fabric store.

Alewives Fabrics is located in Damariscotta Mills which is in mid-coast Maine.  If you are ever here in Maine (or you are you lucky enough to live here), then make the trip!  It is the best fabric store that I’ve ever visited.  Seriously.  My husband is lucky that it’s an hour away otherwise I’d have spent enough to send Rhea (@AlewivesGirl on Twitter, co-owner with her mom in the store) on a trip to Aruba.  Rhea is having a Virtual Open House today on her blog.  Just visit the blog, leave a comment, and she’s giving away some fab prizes.  And in the meantime, while you wait to see if you’ve won, check out her online store.

When I was there last time (at the Liesl Gibson sewing with knits class), I bought some awesome fat quarters of the new Anna Maria Horner Innocent Crush in velveteen.  Oooh!  It’s awesome.  I think I’m going to make some pillows from it.  And Rhea has a great eye for combining fabrics and her 20 fat quarter sets are fab.  I got a cotton set of Innocent Crush of that too.  Not sure what I’m going to do with that.  Hmm…I need to finish my Turning Twenty quilt with Amy Butler Daisy Chain, and then maybe I’ll make another one!

So in Christmas crafting news:

1) Still working on the Hood Tree Skirt.  I ran into a snag.  The front is 42″ round, so they say to use a 44″ square piece for the back.  Well, yes, you’d think that would be easy right?  Fabric is about 44-45″ wide.  Well, not when you’ve pre-washed it.  So, all my Christmas fabrics are only about 42″ wide and won’t work as the backing to compensate for any shifting that might occur as I quilt it.  And it needs to be big enough because the little houses applique go straight to the edge.  Can’t cut any of those off!  So, I need to piece the back.  Sigh.

2) I did succumb to a little “me” shopping at Sew Fresh Fabrics on Etsy.  They had some of comfortstitching’s new Sherbet Pips by Moda in stock! So, I got a charm pack!  So excited.  It’s not coming out until April otherwise. You can see the style in the Little Girl on  a Tree Swing mini quilt that I did a few months ago.  I can’t wait to make some stuff for the guest room with that fabric!  Sew Fresh Fabrics is great!  I also bought some Kona cottons and they mark all the pieces with little stickers with the color name.  So useful!

3) I am making some of these cute little owl ornaments.

4) And I have plans for these little house ornaments, a freebie project from the new book Scandinavian Stitches.

5) Hubby and I are going to use his woodworking skilz to make the boys Harry Potter-esque style magic wands!  We need to work on those.  Maybe tonight.

6) I’m making some more kid-drawing placemats for my mother in law.  Finally got the kids to sit down and make some special drawings, and I’m currently cleaning them up in Paint Shop. Then I will print on that inkjet fabric paper and make into placemats.  The problem is that last year’s placemats have not washed very well.  That inkjet printer fabric seems to hold onto stains.  I’m going to try to Scotchgard them this year and see how that works out. I don’t think I ever shared pictures last year??  I meant to do a tutorial for it but got side-tracked by the fact that they weren’t washing well and didn’t really want to recommend it until I figured out that problem.

7) Christmas Eve pajamas.  I make the boys pajamas every year that I give to them on Christmas Eve.  Haven’t started this year’s yet!  I’d better get cracking!  I have some quilt flannel with cartoon soccer players on it that I might use.  Or I have some baseball fleece.  Hmm…


It was a frosty morning today.  Low of 25 degrees last night, and I had to bundle up in my winter coat, hat, scarf and gloves when I walked the dogs this morning.  Time to put away the Halloween decorations and start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas!  I’ve actually been thinking about Christmas for quite awhile, but I’ve mostly been doing thinking and not a lot of doing.  Time to put things into gear!  In the meantime, I need to put the garden and yard to bed, and plant some bulbs before the ground gets too hard.

I dug up my carrot crop the other day.  I planted my seeds about 3-4 weeks too late, so they are all very tiny.  But, they are so sweet and yummy.  I roasted a bunch for dinner the other night, and will probably do it again tomorrow.  I’m definitely making sure that I plant them on time next year.  Hubby built a special deep square foot box for them (4′ x 4′) which is what put us behind this year.  No excuses next year!

And before I start talking about Christmas….if you missed it last year, this Montessori practical life buttoning felt turkey was a huge hit with all the kids in my son’s Montessori school (age 3-6 classes) last year.  Think about making one for your own little one!  It was really quite easy.

When I made the second and third ones, I switched to a zig zag stitch as I went around the outside of the turkey body and the feathers, and it looked a lot better.  The face is hand-embroidered.

Also, if you are really thinking ahead, I thought I would share my wool felt advent calendar that I made two years ago.  I just *love* it!  It was so worth all the time that it took to make each individual pocket.  If you start now, you can still be done by December 1st!

The chickadee pocket is one of my favorites.

Felt Flower Garden House Embroidery Project

I used Checkout Girl’s awesome Little Pink House tutorial that was posted on Sew Mama Sew awhile back to make this!  I didn’t break out much from the pattern, but it was my first project like this and I wanted to get my hands around it first.  Now I need to sketch something up to make something new!

My "Little Pink House"

Close-up of the flowers

The background is linen, and the felt is all wool.  I just love the spring green color of the leaves.  I can’t remember where I bought that color but I’ll have to figure it out because I love it.  The orange and aqua colors are some hand-dyed felt that I got from Felt-o-Rama.  Gorgeous colors, but the felt is a bit thin (1mm according to the website, as compared to the wool blend which is 1.2mm).  Fine for this sort of project though.  They sell hand-dyed embroidery floss to match.

Montessori Word Family House

J’s teacher showed me an idea that she got from a blog and asked if I could come up with something similar for their classroom.  Well, how can I say no to such a challenge?  **Update** I finally found the link for the original inspiration for this project at itty bitty love.  She has some examples of word family cards that the children can choose from.  Check out her blog.  Great Montessori ideas!

Word Family House

The purpose of this work is to put a word ending in the top attic window.  So there will be a card with “AT” on it for example.  Then, the child will have more cards with the “AT” ending which the child places down the right-side column of windows, cards with beginning sounds, and then objects that match the words that can be created…”CAT” or “BAT” for instance.  I’ll try to get some pictures of the work in progress once J’s teacher puts it out.

The size of the red house is about 12×12 inches, which was just the size of the pieces of wool-blend red felt that I had (purchased from Felt-o-Rama).  The white windows on the red part of the house are 2×3 inches.  I sewed those on with my machine and a straight-stitch.  So here was my process:

1) Cut out two pieces of tan for the roof.  Attached the window in the center of one piece using white embroidery floss and a whip stitch.  Then, I used a back-stitch and dark gray floss to make the window panes, and to outline the window.  I then put the two tan pieces together, sandwiched in a piece of dark charcoal (a felted sweater scrap) and used a decorative stitch to sew the roof together.

2) Cut out the main house window pieces.  I attached these to the front house piece with Heat-n-Bond Lite in order to get them to stay on securely when I was sewing them on.  I find this works better than just pinning which can cause the pieces to turn out a bit wonky by the time you are done if you aren’t careful.  Then I sewed them in place with my machine, matching thread, and a standard straight stitch.  I hand-stitched the window panes with a back stitch and dark charcoal embroidery floss.  You could put the windows on by hand with a whip-stitch but I was trying to save a bit of time with eight windows!

3) I then embellished the house a bit with the purple coneflower, grass and butterfly.

4) While watching the awesome skating on the Olympics last night, I put together the two red pieces by hand with a blanket stitch.  Stitched all the way around all sides.  I then attached the roof using a whipstitch along the bottom edge of the roof where it meets the front piece of the house.  I didn’t tack it down in the back at all.  I didn’t really feel like it needed it, but I can do that later if it turns out to need some additional support after it’s been used awhile by the children.

Purple coneflower embellishment on the house

Butterfly embellishment

This was a fun project!  I can’t wait to see it in action in the classroom.

“Not my gumdrop buttons….”

Gingerbread boy ornament

Gingerbread boy ornament

I recently ran across this pattern/tutorial on Elsie Marley’s site for a half-eaten gingerbread boy ornament, and I had to make it!  He’s so adorable!  It’s an interesting technique to sew the front cut piece onto a rectangular back piece, and then cut the back piece into the correct shape after sewing.  Worked very well.  My only hint on making this would be to stuff it a little bit when you are halfway around instead of waiting until the end.  I had a hard time getting stuffing into the far arm and leg, and it would have been easier if I had stuffed as I went along.  I also used a backstitch to embroider the year on the back of the piece.  I can’t wait to hang him on my tree when we put it up in a few weeks!

Gingerbread boy has already been a hit with J

Already being played with by J

Montessori holiday buttoning activity – Turkey-Lurkey

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Laura over at My Montessori Journey posted the cutest felt turkey last year that she made into a practical life buttoning activity for her class.  Well, I saw it last year and marked it, but then it got lost in my legions of crafting bookmarks.  Well, thankfully she recently re-posted it and J’s teacher saw it and forwarded it to me!  I worked on it last night while watching HP Order of the Phoenix (have to brush up before the DVD release of Half-Blood Prince next month – already on pre-order, yes, I’m one of those people), and then finished it up this morning before taking J to school.  We were a few minutes late, but I think his teacher forgave us when she saw the turkey!  And we were thankfully there in time for J to respond with a chipper “Bonjour!” when she called his name at circle, although he was still at his cubby putting on his inside shoes.

It’s made of wool and wool-blend felt that I had in my stash.  I hand-sewed on the facial features with a basic running stitch and just used whatever buttons I had on hand that were approximately the same size (so the kids could put the feathers on in any order).  I made it with two layers of felt for the turkey body, and the feathers.  So I sewed those together with my machine.  It would have been nice to hand sew those, but that would have taken considerably longer and this is just as durable and nice.  Especially considering it’s an activity that will only be out on the shelf for a few weeks a year.  The feet are just one piece of felt, and I made sure to go over them twice with my sewing machine just to make sure they wouldn’t get loose.  Hmm….I probably should have used brown thread in my machine.  Oh well!

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It turned out great and I really can’t emphasize enough the difference it makes when you use wool and wool-blend felts.  It’s so much nicer than using acrylic felt.  It just has a better textural quality, both in terms of working with the materials, and using them.  100% wool felt is pretty expensive, but the wool felt blends that you can buy at places like Prairie Point Junction and Felt-o-Rama are also quite nice.  The green and red feathers are actually scraps from my advent calendar from last year.  I keep every minute bit of wool felt scraps, LOL!  The black eyes are some tiny scraps of recycled wool sweater (felted in my washing machine).

Alewives Fabric Craft Swap

When we were at the Maine Quilts show in July, we stopped by the Alewives Fabric booth.  We loved their stuff!  Loved it!  Well, I went online later to check out their online store, and saw that they had a craft swap coming up in their store on a Friday night.  It looked like a good time, so my friend and I went.  It was a bit of a drive to get there, but so worth it!

The swap was tons of fun and we can’t wait until the next one in December!  It was an old-fashioned Yankee Swap, and I was excited to have possession of Rhea’s Denyse Schmidt-inspired scrappy quilt, even if it was only for a little while.

Here is what I made!  I used Skip to my Lou’s reversible tote bag tutorial to make a little linen tote.  I made the handles a bit longer to make it easier to hang over your shoulder.  I pieced the front piece with some pretty Irish linen that I had in my stash, and some purple quilting pieces, also from my stash.  Then, I used the Sketchy Stitchy Applique tutorial from Bloomin’ Workshop to make these little birds.  I love the little birds!  I used Heat and Bond Lite to attach the birds to the linen, then did the sketchy stitching using some brown thread (don’t forget stabilizer underneath!).  I think brown has a nicer effect than black thread.  Finished it off with some Kona cotton handles in Violet.

Linen bird tote for swap

Linen bird tote for swap

Sketchy Stitchy Applique birds

Sketchy Stitchy Applique birds

Of course, that wasn’t enough for me, so I also made a little stuffed birdie with a thrifted wool sweater.  I needle felted the tail, beak, belly, and the little bits of orange color on the wings.  The pattern for the bird was based off the pattern that Living Crafts magazine had in their winter issue last year (last year, I made them with regular wool felt as Peace Dove bird ornaments for Montessori teacher gifts for the holidays).  And to top it off, I threw in the brand-new (at the time) book from Amanda Blake Soule, Handmade Home.

Felted wool bird

Felted wool bird

It was a great time, and I loved making the items.  And what did I receive in the swap, you might ask?  A totally adorable bag!  I love bags.

My craft swap loot

My craft swap loot

Of course, while I was there, I couldn’t resist shopping in their lovely store.  New post for that.  I can’t wait to show you what I’m going to do with what I bought!!  I’m very excited about it.

Felted Knitting Needle Case

Felted knitting needle case from Warm Fuzzies

Felted knitting needle case from Warm Fuzzies

I have been thinking about making the knitting needle case from Betz White’s Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects for awhile.  My good friend’s birthday was a few weeks ago, and I thought it would be a perfect gift!  I used a nice wool sweater that I had picked up at Goodwill awhile back.  It was gray with a pretty orange border around the cuffs and bottom.  So, I tried to incorporate that into the design.  The project in the book has a sunflower embroidery, but I used the nest/bird embroidery that was featured in the family photo album project.  Inside is some cream, butter yellow, and orange 100% wool felt from my stash.  It came together very easily.  The directions were great and I had no issues at all.  It was a bit difficult to sew the bottom of the pocket just because of all the layers – sweater and two layers of wool felt.  I had to go over part of it a second time, but it looked fine.

Inside of case, used a decorative stitch on the flap

Inside of case, used a decorative stitch on the flap

Inside of case

Inside of case

Front of knitting needle case

Front of knitting needle case

Cashmere bunny

I made Betz White’s free pattern for a cashmere bunny last night. So-o-o-o cute! Betz wrote Warm Fuzzies which I got for Christmas and I absolutely love. Highly recommended!

I got the cashmere sweater at Goodwill for $4.99. The cashmere is a bit slippery to work with, but it turned out okay. Her pattern calls for sewing closed the opening after you turn it, and attaching a tail. Her suggestions for a tail include a yarn pompom or a wool felt ball. I decided to stuff the bunny with wool batting instead of polyfill, and then I let the batting hang out the end. Then I sewed the hole closed through the batting that was sticking out, and needle-felted the bit of wool hanging out the end into a tail. It turned out very cute! I had to go back to Goodwill today to try to find another color of a cashmere sweater so I could make another one in a different color! I might have been successful. I’m not sure if the sweater I bought is cashmere or not because the tag had been cut out. I guess we’ll see how it works out! It was pretty quick and easy to make. I’d say it took about 2 hours max. (We were having a crafty-girl night, so there was much chatter and not as much crafting!)

Flickr and cute sweetheart purse pattern

So, I was browsing Flickr this morning and came across a group called “Made from Recycled Sweaters.” I got Betz White’s book, Warm Fuzzies, for Christmas, and this was right along those same lines. I have all these great Goodwill wool sweaters upstairs in my cedar chest just waiting for a project!

I just love to browse Flickr. You just never know what you are going to find. So, while browsing through this new group, I came across the cutest little heart-shaped purses made from recycled sweaters, designed by Betz White! She was selling the pattern as a pdf in her Etsy shop. I just couldn’t resist. I’m not sure if I have any sweaters that are appropriate for this pattern, I’ll have to check out my stash. And I’m not sure who I would make a cute little heart-shaped purse for, but they were just too cute to resist. (I have a little, crafty-addiction, as you can probably tell.)