Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I like Target.

Guess what came out today?

And yes, I've already watched it. It's even better the second time around!

While in Target, grasping the aforementioned movie, I found this adorable set of three little notebooks. One of them is definitely my favorite, but I'm not letting myself use it quite yet. :)

{They're approx. 3.25 x 5.25 inches, and were surprisingly cheap. Also, they're made out of recycled materials.}

I've come across some inspiring writing/journaling blogs lately. And I've also realized that there are many times when I'm in town, at school, etc. when I need to write down something: a book title, a person's name, a song, or a list. And all I have in my bag is an ugly sticky note. So now, there will be cute little notebook in my purse at all times. :)

Until next time,

{P.S. Does anyone know why Blogger formatting has been so weird lately?}

Saturday, March 26, 2011


A few months ago, I read this article on Yahoo. It's a list of things that children born in 2011 supposedly won't remember or know about. This article, though in some instances is trying to be funny, is really just ridiculous. Actually, when I first read it, it got me so worked up that I wanted to blog about it but decided I had better wait a while. :) I already got a little fired up in this post.

Here are just a few things that the list pretty much says will be obsolete for kids born this year: books, magazines, newspapers, travel agents, CDs, picture frames (non-digital ones), letters and mail.

The article fails to recognize one major fact, though: some of us refuse to let this happen.

Sure, I like my laptop and my iPod. I've bought songs and several CDs on iTunes, but only because I couldn't find the CD locally.

But I'm the girl who not only still watches VHS tapes (though, after having our VCR spit out and unwind three tapes this week, I will admit DVDs are an improvement there) but *gasp* listens to records. Which were considered "obsolete" years before I was born.

I'm the girl who gets so excited about checking the mail, whether I find a note, a package, a magazine, or even just junk mail in the box.

I'm the girl who will never, ever buy an e-reader of any kind because of the way they seem to be hurting the book printing industry. Real books that you can hold and smell and pass on are special. That's one of the reasons why I love bookbinding.

I'm the girl who reluctantly owns an old cell phone- solely for the purpose of calling and letting my mom know when I've reached my destination. I'm the girl who has never sent a text message in her life and doesn't plan to.

So call me stubborn, but I'm determined that the things in that article will not apply to me, or to the children I hope to have someday. Sooner or later, people will have to realize that technological advancements are not always advancements or improvements, and that one of the best things we can do is look back and learn from the way things used to be.

That's just my opinion. As for me, I'll hold on tightly to my real books, black and white photographs, and dusty albums.

Until next time,

{P.S. This post is not meant to offend anyone, especially those who have an e-reader. It's just how I feel about things. Photo was found on Google.}

Friday, March 25, 2011

Work in progress.

Yesterday (and today), everyone in my house has been sick except me. So things have been a little weird around here. I've been spraying Lysol and wiping door handles, but mostly staying in my room, away from all of the coughing and sickness. :)

Last night, I wanted to embroidery, so I decided to watch North and South again {I like to watch new movies/mini-series for a second time not long after I watched them the first time- I want to soak everything in and catch things I missed the first time}.

I've realized something. I am a very slow stitcher. I picked up my hoop this morning and thought, that's all you got done? During the end of Love's Long Journey (playing on Hallmark) through the whole of North & South (4 or 5 hours?), I only completed this much of my new Princess and the Pea pattern. And actually, her face and hair don't count, because I did that on Wednesday. Yes, I made her a brunette. I have brown hair so I tend to make all of my little embroidered girls the same way. :)

Remember, though. I was watching N&S while stitching. So I did spend a fair amount of time glancing up at the screen and at a certain Mr. Thornton. :)

I think this is the first time I've ever posted "in progress" pictures. It's a little scary and nerve-wracking. :) I know that all of the hideous blue lines make everything look a little weird, but they'll wash out.

By the way, I hate using the water soluble/disappearing ink marker for embroidery. The tip isn't fine enough, and my lines bleed everywhere. I use the "lightbox" method for transferring. I tape my pattern to my window, then tape my fabric over it, and trace. :) That's the only way I've ever done it. When I first started, I used a pen for tracing the lines, as was unfortunately noted in my Alice embroidery. I don't do that anymore, but I do miss having fine little lines to embroidery over.

I've got a long way to go. It's a good thing I find embroidery relaxing, or I might be stressed. :)

Until next time,

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Better late than never.

I didn't find this Irish-themed free embroidery pattern ("She Scatters Shamrocks," by SeptemberHouse) until Friday, the day after St. Patrick's Day. But that didn't stop me from stitching it up this weekend.

{I had almost finished wrapping the hoop when I ran out of green ribbon.}

I think she's cute enough to hang up year-round. And I'm super proud of my French knots- I struggle with those!

On the actual St. Patrick's Day, I didn't wear green. I did eat birthday cookie (it was my brother's birthday), and watch two movies in celebration (we have Scotch-Irish ancestors).

First, another viewing of Leap Year. Set in Ireland, and one of the few "modern" romantic comedies I actually enjoy.

Then a viewing of Brigadoon. I know, I know. Brigadoon is in Scotland, not Ireland. But Leap Year is the only Irish-related movie I own, so I had to throw in another.

Watching Brigadoon is always interesting for me. I bought it years ago, without having ever seen it before, merely for Gene Kelly. It's an interesting plot with a fantasy twist. But most of the songs aren't that great and most of the cast seems to be over-acting (or maybe it's just the fake Scottish accents that make it seem that way). Also, I do not find Van Johnson's character very likable.

But I can watch it just for Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, who are so ridiculously elegant and graceful in every move that it's a little sickening for klutzes like me.

Brigadoon always sort of reminds me of the I Love Lucy Europe episode: Lucy Goes to Scotland. I guess because of the Scotland/musical similarities (and the episode was aired just two years after the musical was made, so maybe Brigadoon inspired it?). That episode is one of my least favorites, and I never look forward to watching it. Although I always enjoy it more than I expect, mostly because of Ricky trying to speak in a Scottish accent, the hilarious song lyrics ("I'm in love with the dragon's dinner..."), and the Fred/Ethel dragon.

Until next time,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Embroidered inspirations.

Yesterday, when I was supposed to be researching and taking notes for an upcoming speech, I was instead drooling over gorgeous embroidery patterns online.

{Today I finally organized all of my embroidery floss by color, and I bought these adorable little red embroidery scissors.}

My Paypal balance is now significantly lower, because I ended up buying a Princess and the Pea pattern (from Follow the White Bunny) , the Booksmart set (from SeptemberHouse), and a Sublime Stitching pattern.

To my readers who embroider: you can find some adorable free patterns at the SeptemberHouse blog (in the left sidebar). Also, check out these beautiful hoops using fabric scraps.

And please, please go look at this incredible Dr. Seuss embroidery. Isn't that the most amazing thing ever? It looks exactly like a page out of the book. It makes me want to be brave and try to stitch something from a Dr. Seuss book.

When we were in Hobby Lobby today, my mom pointed out the Disney counted cross stitch kits. They have small ones and large ones. They were so cute that my Disney dorkiness took over and I bought one. I've never done counted cross stitch before, and the last time I did regular cross stitch samplers was probably when I was about 10, but I thought, how hard can it be?

And then I pulled out the instructions and chart.

Wow. It's a huge chart for a little 5x7 piece. With hundreds of little squares and symbols. Only a little overwhelming.

Has anybody seen or finished any cute embroidery lately?

Until next time,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The swing dress.

My 1940s "swing" dress is finished! :)

I finished it up on Saturday. Saturday afternoon, actually. I was hemming it and sewing on the button just in time to wear it to church Sunday.

I know I posted about my fabric before, but it is rayon challis. Towards the last minute, I decided to underline it, which was definitely a good decision. The fabric is pretty sheer, and plus it's very slippery and thin and with a little stretch. So I probably would have pulled my hair out and given up this dress if I was sewing the fabric by itself. I underlined it with black broadcloth. I started basting the broadcloth to the fabric by hand (like a few tutorials I read recommended), but soon I realized that it would take me as long to baste the pieces by hand as it would to sew the entire dress. Have I mentioned that, while I love embroidery, my hand sewing skills are pitiful? So I basted all of the other pieces by machine. (I also hemmed it on my machine. The thought of sewing a hem by hand practically makes me hyperventilate. :)

I also ended up using one of the above black buttons instead of a brooch. The red was just a little much-it looked really bright compared to the red in the fabric. I know you can't see the black button on the dress that well, but I like that it's subtle. Plus, the texture perfectly matches my vintage clutch (seen in the pictures).

I really love this dress. It's by far the best fitting dress/garment I've ever made, and I took more time and effort with this one than I ever have. Here's a list of firsts that go with this dress:

1. First muslin. I never bothered with making a muslin mock-up before. It is so worth it!
2. First time altering a pattern. I shortened the bodice by an inch, adjusted the sleeve ease, shortened the sleeves a little, shortened the skirt by 1 inch, and added .5 inch to all the side seams-which, in the end, may not have been necessary.
3. First time underlining a fabric.
4. First time inserting an invisible zipper in the side of a dress. Or a dress period. This was only my second invisible zipper, and unfortunately, it didn't turn out quite as perfect as my first did. But it's good enough.
5. First time finishing the fabric edges before I started sewing. I used the overcast stitch on my machine on every single piece after I cut it out. It seemed like an absolute pain at the time, but it made things so easier to work with! Plus, I didn't have to struggle trying to finish the seams after the dress was sewn.

As far as changes/alterations go, I also left off the back ties and the shoulder pads. I can always go back and add the shoulder pads later, but I think it looks fine.

Sorry for the unintentional scowl in the next picture. It seems that whenever I need to take sewing pictures outside, the wind is always blowing! {By the way, the credit for the photos goes to my mom.}

Making this dress was quite an adventure. It started out a little rough, but eventually smoothed out. :) You can read about the long afternoon I spent wrestling with my e-pattern, scotch tape, and our curious cats here. The muslin went well, after I spent half an hour staring, baffled, at the shoulder yoke tutorial pictures until it finally clicked. :) I didn't even panic when I realized I didn't need the SBA that I had done and had to redo the bodice. It was actually exciting to see the fit coming together so nicely.

The next stressful part was hand washing the fabric. I've never hand washed fabric in my life. But this rayon challis is dry clean only, and I didn't want to deal with that. I tried a sample in the wash, but it shrunk like crazy. So I washed approx. 4 yards of thin fabric in cool water with a little Woolite in our kitchen sink. Yeah. Have you ever tried to rinse the detergent out of 4 yards of heavy, dripping fabric? It was not easy or fun. I had water everywhere, and I realized that the red in the fabric was bleeding. So some of the white flowers are now pink, but it's not noticeable. I was trying to be so careful, because I had read online just minutes earlier that rayon is a very sensitive fabric (sensitive to warm water, a warm dryer, a warm iron, and the list goes on). I lugged the fabric outside to hang it on the line. That was one of those days when the wind was blowing ridiculously. I used all of the clothespins we own so the fabric wouldn't blow away. I stood there and watched the fabric whipping and sliding around and could only think of how it was going to get damaged. After a few minutes, I bought it back inside and draped it across the empty pack-n-play to dry. A real adventure. :)

The actual sewing of the dress was simple after that. The pattern is really great, though I would have been lost with Casey's tutorial for the shoulder seams. Somehow, all of the seams that were a little off or didn't match up quite right in the muslin evened out in the real dress and fit perfectly.

Thanks so much to Casey for hosting this swing dress sew along! I would have never been brave enough to attempt all of the alterations, muslin, etc. that I tried this time if it hadn't been for her advice, tutorials, and the knowledge that there were lots of other people out there attempting this, too. :) Sewing this dress has made me a little more confident when it comes to sewing my own clothes.

Until next time,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boxes of Books {Part 1}

A few days ago, me and Mom started a clean-up/organization mission in our loft (a sort of open-attic room where we store a lot of stuff).

It was such a weird, nostalgic feeling to find so many things I had forgotten about. Well, not forgotten about, but that had been pushed to the back of my mind.

My whole childhood is contained in boxes in the loft.

I found lots of things. Three rolls of yarn, a crochet needle, and a long crocheted piece about 2 inches wide, left over from when some ladies were teaching our Wednesday night girls' class how to crochet years ago. A sewing book for kids and a little box of embroidery floss and a half-finished cross stitch pattern. These things are proof that I was crafty as a kid, but my craftiness became repressed until two years ago. :) I also found pictures and dolls and my plastic two-story dollhouse. And my folder of information about the Young Mustang Club.

{The Young Mustang Club was a club I started when I was 11-12 years old and deep in my horse phase. (Does every girl that age go through a horse stage? It seems like it.) The members of this club were myself, my brother, my dad, and three cousins. I made membership cards for everyone and a club handbook. And there was a newsletter. I had to laugh when I some of the issues. I was the editor, of course. There was a fiction section (where I wrote about cowboys who spoke in the most cheesy "Western" speech ever), a trivia section, a news section, etc. I was quite an odd child. :) I think the club fell apart when we realized it was impossible for all of the members to get together for a club meeting.}

But mostly it was boxes of books. There's not much room up there, so I started taking the book boxes downstairs to sort through. There was one box, then two, then three. I just kept finding more boxes full of books.

I'm very thankful that I was always surrounded by books growing up. My parents made sure we had plenty of them! I think that it is so important for children to have books, and my case proves that a childhood exposure to books can turn a person into an obsessive bookworm (that's a good thing! :).

{An awesome Disney alphabet book that I loved when I was little and my old, very worn copy of Little House on the Prairie- yes, the cover is gone}

Since the goal of this was to make more space in the loft, I knew I would have to get rid of some of the books. So I started sorting them. It wasn't as hard as I thought. If there was any doubt in my mind about whether I should keep it or get rid of it (trash or donate it to Goodwill), I kept it. I used to buy books all the time at Goodwill (ours has an amazing bookstore), and I had so many that I never read or could never finish. So there was no need to keep those.

I could not part with my Baby-Sitter's Club books (I think I counted about 46 of them). Or my horse chapter books (Saddle Club, etc.), or my American Girl historical books. Those books were so important to me, and I seriously loved them.

{I read Baby-Sitter's Club and children's historical fiction...now I'm taking child care classes and I love vintage. Coincidence?}

And those were just the chapter books. We also had tons of picture books. Since I've been in early childhood education, I've rediscovered my love for children's literature, including picture books. I've taken one class about children's literature and two about children's literacy and planned dozens of preschool activities that include a book, so I've read a lot of picture books over the past two years. In some ways, I've become a bit of a picture book snob, because we're taught how to look for good quality.

I found some classic picture books that I had forgotten we had: Dr. Seuss, etc. And there are a few books that aren't exactly the best quality, but I couldn't let go of them. Because I remember reading through them as a child, I remember certain pictures in them. Or they trigger little memories.

Because books are so important to me, I'm already collecting books for my future children. I know this seems really weird to some people. But someday, I want my kids to have lots of amazing books just like I did (and still do). Here's my growing collection of picture books (my other children's "chapter" books- Narnia, Little House, etc. are scattered through my other shelves):

Okay, and a plus is that I actually like reading picture books myself. There are so many incredible, creative, and gorgeous ones out there.

And ever since last summer, when I had to start doing about 40 picture book reviews for class and I came across some great ones, I've been wanting to do this post. A post about picture books and children's literature. I put it off because I have so much to say about it, but this seemed a good time to start. This will be part one of my children's literature series.

I want to talk about a few of my favorite authors and illustrators, and also talk about my favorite children's chapter books. I don't know how many posts will be in the series, or how long it will go on (and this series won't be all I post), but I hope you guys will enjoy it. :) Or at least endure it, because I really do love children's literature and it's something I get really excited about. If you have any kids in your life, maybe my series can introduce you to some books for them or give you some gift ideas. :)

P.S. Now, when I buy a book, I feel the urge to make it mine. I immediately clean off any stickers and put it in its place on my bookshelf (or my "to read" pile). I had the same urge as a child, but I expressed it by writing my name in nearly every book I owned. :)

{I think Katie's post here might have given me the boost I needed to start this series.}

Until next time,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fantastic Mr. Fox.

I've been wanting to see this movie for a while now, especially since I read the book last year. One of our local movie rental stores is going out of business and selling all of their rentals, so I picked this up the other day.

Fantastic Mr. Fox.

This is one of the most unusual little movies I've ever seen. But I mean that in a good way (those words are exactly what I said when I saw The Princess Bride for the first time).

Fantastic Mr. Fox is incredible. If a children's picture book came to life, this is what it would look like. (Though, to me, it doesn't seem quite like a children's movie.)

The attention to detail is amazing. Look at Mrs. Fox's little cameo brooch. You have to watch this movie at least twice, because the first time around, you're focusing on the action in the forefront. But you need to watch it again to see everything happening in the background.

I love the way the stop-motion animation looks: not smooth and slick and perfect. I love the dry humor and the little quirks. And I love how all of the music fits in perfectly in every single scene (even though usually the Beach Boys make me gag). I love that the rat flips out his knife and snaps his fingers like some sort of James Dean/cheesy West Side Story gang member wannabe.

In short, I love this movie. You should definitely watch it as soon as possible.

{I was planning to post a lot more over this week, spring break, but I just didn't get around to it. I've been sewing and basically enjoying myself.}

Until next time,

Sunday, March 6, 2011


This is Audrey.
Audrey loves a good book.

She also loves movies. Especially movies starring that girl who has the same name as her.

Sometimes she can be found at her sewing machine. She's very careful with the pins and needles, and she never sticks herself like some other less coordinated people she knows.

By night, Audrey is a world-renowned concert pianist. Sometimes she has a little trouble reaching the foot pedals.

Audrey gets a kick out of listening to Frank Sinatra records. His voice makes her swoon.

{There is something so ridiculously satisfying about sewing a toy. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's because it's something 3D and soft and huggable. :)

Okay, here's the technical stuff. I made Audrey using the Retro Mama "Greta" doll pattern. The pattern was great and putting her together was actually a lot less complicated that I expected. The only tough part was sewing everything together while trying to keep the hands and arms in place- one arm ended up slightly higher than the other one and I had to resew a few sections where all of the fabric layers didn't catch. I highly recommend the pattern! By the way, the doll is pretty much the perfect size for kids- big enough to hug and play with, but not too awkward to tote around.}

{I did change the face a little. My mom thought her eyes were too small at first, so I embroidered much larger eyes, left off the freckles (she's supposed to look like me, and I don't have freckles), and added a mouth. I thought that the little mark in the middle of the original pattern was a mouth, but the pattern referred to it as a nose. I can't for the life of me imagine it as anything besides a mouth! :) Her hair is brown wool felt. All other felt (hair bow, collar, shoes) was just regular craft felt. Her face and arms are muslin- she turned out a little pale, because the fabric looked darker in the store. Her tights are red gingham.

Her dress is this adorable Valentine's Day fabric that was on clearance for only $3 a yard back in February. It's printed like vintage valentines! I got at least a yard of it, and her dress only took a little. I originally intended for her to wear yellow, because it's my favorite color, but when I saw this fabric next to the red gingham, it was perfect. I couldn't help but put them together.}

{This pattern has so many possibilities! I'm already thinking of themed dolls to make: Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables (how cute would she be with red hair and two pigtails?), and the list goes on. I love that you can personalize it to pretty much anyway you want, with hair, bows, dress, tights, applique, etc. I'll be keeping Audrey, but I'm considering making a couple of these for my Etsy shop.}

Until next time,

Friday, March 4, 2011

General craftiness.

I know I haven't been doing many sewing or crafting posts lately. But I have been making stuff! :) Here's some of what I've finished recently:

I made these two patchwork pillows using the embroidery from the Doodle Stitch Along I was participating in a while back. The back of the pillows is the same green floral that I used on the front.

I had this one small, lonely mushroom embroidery left over. So I made a little round pillow with it (and some rickrack). I know the left side looks a little deformed, but it doesn't look that bad in real life. :)

I also made this sweet little book. It's based on one from the Rebound book.

The outside is wool felt and the inside lining is green gingham. It has embroidery on the front and the binding uses buttons. The pages inside are cardstock.

If you're interested, you can find it in the shop here. I love making books and hope to add some more soon!

Several months ago, I bought some gorgeous Alexander Henry fabric with a sewing motif. It was expensive, so I didn't buy much, and I've been afraid to cut into it. But yesterday I decided it was time for me to have a new spring bag.

It's just a regular tote bag style like I sell in my Etsy shop. I tried to get close-ups of the fabric, but the lighting wasn't good:

These are some of the things on the fabric: a sewing machine, measuring tape/ruler, buttons, scissors, rotary cutter, pin cushion, pattern pieces, needle and thread, embroidery floss, flowers, zippers, thimbles, etc. It's adorable!

And it's very springy. Since yellow is not only my favorite color, but also very cheerful and sunshiny, I used some yellow gingham for the lining (as you can see, the bag is already filled up :).

I also made a matching wallet:

Spring break is next week, but I don't have classes on Thursdays or Fridays so technically my spring break has already started. :) I've got a list of things I want to accomplish, including making the swing dress and trying out this adorable doll pattern I just bought. So I'll probably be posting more next week and having some new crafty projects to share! Also, hopefully I'll have a book review and a movie review up.

Until next time,