Rope baskets are a thing now, and I thought I would see what all the fuss was about. They are easy, relatively inexpensive to make, and are quite meditative as you sew. They hog thread--about a spool per basket. I never got the hang of turning a corner to make a crisp base, but I also only made two baskets. They turned out larger than I intended, but my children thought my mistake meant all the more candy that the Easter bunny could leave them! Here are a few pictures of the basket in-progress and finished. The red marks near the handles were later erased with a hot iron (I use the FriXion erasable gel pens).
It shouldn't be a surprise that someone who doesn't like plastic, doesn't go for plastic Easter grass. Green fabric is fluffy, the right color, cotton, and reusable year after year. When you no longer fill baskets, you can sew something with it. Win win in my book.
I hope you had a lovely Easter, if you celebrate, and are enjoying that spring is finally here!
This time of year, I like to make a little something for my children's Easter baskets. If the project goes smoothly, I try to make some for my niece and nephew as well. This picture on Pinterest got me thinking. While buying the pattern would have been the easier option, I had some extra time this week and decided to draft a pattern myself and just go for it, pilfering the scrap bin along the way.
Such a sweet face!
The round body is what really struck me as interesting. I ditched the arms and legs from the original, and also rounded the ears a bit. I liked it so much I made four!
Ready for Easter with time to spare to get these cuties into the mail. If you're looking for more bunny sewing tutorials, here are a few you might like:
Bunny Drawstring Bag (top right)
Bunny Tote (top left)
Bunny Softie (bottom left)
This is a Bunny I made two years ago for all the kids in the family, a free tutorial on the blog While She Naps. The velour, which I found in the remnant bin at Joann, makes it so cuddly soft. (bottom right)
Let me know if you decide to sew some bunnies this spring. I would love to see them!
My sister-in-law made an unusual request of me this summer. She asked, "Do you have any chicken fabric? I need you to make me a gift for a friend." Well, that part wasn't that strange--people ask me different versions of that question all the time.
I said no, thinking her friend must be part of the current backyard chicken raising craze. When I didn't have chickens, she then asked, "What about barbed wire?" Ummmmmm. "No." I asked her to give me a little more information, thinking I might be able to create an image with embroidery.
Since I'm the last person around to have never seen Orange is the New Black, I had no idea where she was going with this. Then she sent me an image, and everything clicked. I knew I could design something to mimic the image. Here's what I came up with, then turned it into a canvas tote.
OITNB-watchers--what do you think? I never in a million years ever pictured myself embroidering barbed wire, but there you have it. Life is full of surprises!
Earlier this summer, I wanted to make a birthday gift for my 6 year old niece. She is very much still into playing dolls, so I wanted something she could play with, but that was a little different. With pillows on the brain after writing up a new sewing class for making button-closure pillows, I had the idea of making a pillow that functions as a dollhouse. Here are some details of my dollhouse pillow.
I used raw edge applique to sew all the details, though if doing it again, I would definitely choose a zigzag satin stich instead. I'm very happy with how the free-form "thread sketching" turned out with the window panes.
Note: this was sewn start-to-finish on my "old" sewing machine while my workhorse was being tuned up at the spa. You don't need a fancy machine to sew fancy things!
The curtains sway in the breeze, and the pillows are lightly stuffed.
My favorite has to be the kitchen and the fussy-cut accessories. Though the buttons for stove knobs are a close second.
That button makes the perfect door knob. The house opens with ribbon ties on the side.
The whole "house" can be removed from the pillow form to be washed, if the need should arise. My husband wisely pointed out to my niece and her brother that though it is a pillow, it shouldn't be used in a pillow fight. Those buttons could do serious damage!
I hope she likes her squishy new dollhouse!
Natural soap lovers: the beautiful and divinely scented bar of soap you just bought at an artisan market or local boutique starts out life in your home looking like this.
After a while, you get this.
Don't throw away all those little bits! You can put them into a Soap Saver Bag and keep on lathering, rinsing, and repeating. Lather the bag and use as a scrubbie as-is, or lather to use with a washcloth. Hang the bag to dry by the drawstring cord in between uses. You can even throw it into a cold wash cycle if it needs it (line dry).
Pair a Soap Saver Bag with a fresh bar of soap for a lovely gift this season (stocking stuffers, Yankee swap, teachers, hostesses, bus drivers, co-workers, mail carriers...who doesn't love soap?) All soap pictured here came from Newport Seafoam Trading Company.
I know, I know, it's too early to be thinking about the holidays. Let's enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving first! I completely agree. BUT...when you would like to make some gifts to give, you have to start early. Consider this a friendly nudge to get started.
One of my favorite sewing blogs, SewMamaSew, has an annual Handmade Holiday series throughout the month of November. They post multiple tutorials per day (usually thematically organized like gifts for tech lovers, gifts for teachers, gifts for teens...), plus a recipe and a free printable (gift tags, thank you notes, place cards, etc.). Every single day in November, there will be a fresh batch of ideas complete with instructions from sewing and crafty bloggers all around the globe. It's a treasure that you can refer back to anytime throughout the year.
The great part is that this is the eighth annual series, which means there are seven more years' worth of handmade ideas in their search engine! Here is last year's list to get you started.
The series starts November 1, this Saturday. I'll be checking every day. It's so worth it for inspiration and tutorials. You can start now and have a whole basketful of handmade gifts ready once the holidays are here! I don't recommend trying to make a dozen gifts starting on December 20. You'll go crazy.
If you don't have the time or inclination to make gifts this year, support handmade artisans who have been planning for this season since June. You can start with this year's Cornucopia sale where I will have a booth next weekend, Nov 7-8 in Portsmouth!!
Introducing Pencil Cases!
You can find them in the zippered pouch section of my shop. They are sewn with a stabilizer to make them nice and sturdy, but still machine washable (press with an iron if the stabilizer wrinkles at all during washing). They also have a flat boxed bottom allowing them to stand up on easily on their own.
They are roomy while still being compact. Look at how many things one little bag can hold! The interior lining is a coordinating cotton, kind of like a cute little surprise each time you reach inside for a pen.
I had a lot of fun designing the first one for my 3rd grader (with a bit of her own embroidery), then a second by custom request (thank you Katie!), so the final design has been thoroughly road-tested by a range of students from kindergarten to college.
Some other ways you can use this handy-sized bag:
The possibilities are endless!
I grew up in Maryland, just north of Baltimore. I've lived in Rhode Island for 9 years now, with stops in Philadelphia (undergrad), the Boston suburbs (first job out of college), Newport (first duty station as a Navy spouse), and Virginia (grad school and Navy livin'). But Maryland will always feel like home.
One thing I miss is steamed crabs. I never dare to eat a crabcake outside of the state of Maryland. Even ones I've tried in Virginia, along the Chesapeake Bay using blue crab don't hold a candle to a Maryland crab cake. As a fun little birthday gift for my Marylander nephew, I decided to make him a cuddly stuffed crab. I used the free tutorial from Abby Glassenberg's blog While She Naps, Casey the Crab. It's a fairly simple and straightforward pattern, a good introduction to making soft toys.
Of course I had to make one for my niece's birthday as well. And maybe my Rhode Island children with Maryland lineage will get their own too. I give them away before I get the chance to take a decent photo, so this will have to do for now.
I don't know too many steamed crabs that wear a smile like that...
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.