Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Style Stitches Challenge 5: Perfectly Pleated Clutch finished!

Just under the wire, I finally finished this month's Style Stitches bag, the Perfectly Pleated Clutch, this weekend.
I'm super happy with the way it turned out. It was very easy to assemble, and I found the instructions to be quite clear (after a couple of readings), as usual. I just eyeballed the pleats instead of measuring each one, and I thought they turned out fine.
The only real change I made was using Noodlehead's tutorial for inserting the zipper, as I think it's much easier and makes more sense than AB's method.
I'm linking up to the challenges at JemJam and My Crafty Crap. Check out the other bags, too — there are some great ones out there.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thankful Mondays #15

Did you miss me last week? I was off having a wonderful vacation in Cancun with my family, but I missed you, too. Anyway, back to our normally scheduled posting. Each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week 15 (the Mexico edition). Read more about it here.

211. that my nausea appears to be gone!
212. those who have served our country (Happy Memorial Day!)

213. trying out new vacation spots
214. safe travels on vacation

215. virgin piña coladas
216. the least sunburn I've ever had in Mexico

217. perfect vacation weather
218. a day to "recover" from vacation before heading back to work

219. this view
220. these people
221. that I didn't get sick in Mexico

222. pool floats
223. getting back into sewing
224. coconut paletas
225. sunscreen

Thursday, May 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday #7

Well, since Thankful Mondays wound up on Wednesday this week, I figured I might as well push WIP Wednesday back to Thursday. I'm excited to finally be getting back into having a list of WIPs — it's been too long! And, minus a break next week while I'm in Mexico, I hope my new-found energy will continue and help me get back into the sewing swing, especially because I have lots I want to do. (In case you've missed out, I'm following along with Freshly Pieced's W.I.P. (Work In Progress) Wednesday series as a good way for me (and you) to keep track of what's going on around here.)

Completed this week:
Tracing and cutting the pattern from Handmade Beginnings for one baby-shower gift (more details on this post-shower) using these fabrics

Cutting all of the fabric pieces for my May Style Stitches bag

Started this week:
Planning my Spectrum baby quilt, for which the amazing ladies at Sew Fresh Fabrics helped me pick out this beautiful Kona fabric bundle (more about this project soon, too)

In progress/On the "to do" list:
Blocking the Early Bird/Kitchen Window quilt
Another baby-shower gift based on a tutorial from Made by Rae (again, more on this one post-shower, but I'll probably post some sneak peeks before then) using the Castle Peeps fabrics above
Empire Waist Cinch for me from Handmade Beginnings
This nursing cover for me

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. And be sure to click on the button to check out other great WIPs for more inspiration!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thankful Mondays #14

So, in case you hadn't noticed, it's Wednesday night. Oops. It's been a busy week, and the in-laws were here visiting until this afternoon, so what can I say? Anyway, each Monday (or, occasionally, Wednesday), I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week 14. Read more about it here.

196. lotion
197. visits from in-laws
198. finding new comfy sandals for my pregnant feet
199. that I'm leaving for Mexico in two days
200. finding new pregnancy sewing blogs
201. friends with great suggestions for beach reading
202. getting this amazing rainbow of Kona solids from the amazing ladies at Sew Fresh Fabrics for an upcoming project
203. our growing garden
204. Ted Drewe's
205. the Mavs' continued win streak
206. sunglasses
207. that the St. Louis Zoo is free
208. pockets
209. handkerchiefs
210. our fellow volunteers and the staff at Stray Rescue

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Style Stitches Challenge 5: Perfectly Pleated Clutch fabrics

May's already a third gone (eek!), and I realized I haven't posted my fabrics for this month's Style Stitches challenge. May's bag is the Perfectly Pleated Clutch, and I gotta admit I'm pretty excited about this one. Initially, I wasn't totally into it, but I think it'll be something different for me, and it definitely has the potential to be a real "wow" bag.
My love for Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow collection is no secret, so you shouldn't be too surprised to see these fabrics popping up again. It'll be my first time to break into the blues (which is surprising since blue is my favorite color), and I can't wait to see how they turn out. From left to right, Dogwood Bloom in PondAcorn Chain in Lake, and Nap Sack in Lake, all purchased from Hawthorne Threads.
With my new-found energy, I'm hoping to get started very soon.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I won (again!)

I was checking my Google Reader today and remembered that My Crafty Crap was supposed to be posting the winner of last month's drawing for the Style Stitches Sew Along. I clicked on Bree's blog, and look what I saw!
It was me! Still high off my recent giveaway win, I was super excited to see I'd won something again, and I reckon it made my less-than-stellar response to the checkbook cover itself worth it. April's giveaway was sponsored by Flamingo Toes, so I won an awesome bag pattern (appropriate, considering the sew along) and a pair of earrings. Happy Monday to me!

Thanks, Bree!

Thankful Mondays #13

Each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week 13. Read more about it here.
181. my first time being on the "mother's" end of Mother's Day
182. my moms (mom, step-mom, and mother-in-law)

183. perfect weather for outdoor BBQs
184. hearing our baby's heartbeat for the first time

185. confirming our lease for another year
186. finding out there's a
Cotton Babies store near me
187. friends who are so willing to give baby advice (and have great suggestions!)

188. baking competitions
189. the talent of my friends

190. cute baby outfits
191. that World Market carries recycled paper plates and cups
192. registering
193. the Mavs' sweep of the Lakers
194. brunch after church with my hubby
195. creamed corn

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to me! I know, that may seem a bit selfish, but I'm going to indulge myself because it is my first one. That's right, Matt and I are expecting are first, due 11/11/11. Pretty crazy, huh? So now you understand the tiredness, sickness, and general lack of sewing over the past few weeks. Thankfully, things seem to be getting better, and I'm excited about several sewing projects looming on the horizon.
In fact, to celebrate the day, I indulged in a little purchase from Hawthorne Threads.
I finally bought some Castle Peeps (I know, I'm so far behind. Have you seen the previews of her upcoming 1001 Peeps collection? So cute!), which I'm going to be using for a friend's baby shower gift. The Modern Meadow print (Nap Sack in Grass) in the middle is just because I can't resist that line (and, obviously, having the same fabric in navy and fuchsia wasn't sufficient for my stash).
These were for me. Well, they'll probably wind up in baby stuff, but for my baby. :) They're from the new Timeless Treasures Fruit Punch collection, and I adore that apple and pear print. The dots are great colors, too, and the crosshatch solids match with so many things.
Sadly, when I placed the order, HT was out of the small apples and pears print, but it's back in stock now, so I guess I'll just have to order some more...

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, especially my own wonderful mother, step-mother, and mother-in law.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Starting a garden

This year, Matt and I were finally in a place (space- and time-wise) where we could start a garden. We're still renters, so there's no tilling the soil, but we have plenty of room for a pretty good container garden.
A few weeks ago, we spent the morning at our local nursery, stocking up on local plants and containers. Then, we came home and got to work. It's only been a couple of weeks, but we seem to be making progress.
We have a container of herbs: cilantro, dill, parsley, sage, and chives. Another container has just snap peas right now.
But the peas will soon be joined by some peppers we bought last weekend.
Then we have a container of greens: spinach, mixed salad greens, and kale.
This one has some rosemary and thyme, which will soon be joined by the tomato plant we bought last weekend.
And then we bought a hanging strawberry plant. It already had some blooms when we bought it, and I was so looking forward to those first few strawberries. But then we had several days of rain, during which we brought the plants in from the garden and put them on the floor of the (open) garage. Before we knew it, we'd been robbed! We're pretty sure this little bugger is to blame. Either that, or the gazillion squirrels in the backyard.
From now on, Mr. Strawberry Plant isn't leaving its shepherd's hook. Take that, bunny!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thankful Mondays #12

Each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week 12. Read more about it here.

166. applesauce
167. ladies' night with my girls
168. letter-writing
169. board games (current favorites? Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride)
170. homemade yogurt
171. our expanding garden
172. the Sharks' winning streak
173. a cold glass of water
174. my first fabric purchase in a while (now I just have to wait for it to arrive!)
175. the work of our military and intelligence services in finding Osama bin Laden
176. interlibrary loan
177. sweet tea
178. a ray of sunlight in a summer rain
179. blooming flowers
180. new nail polish

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Style Stitches Challenge 4: Beautiful Balance Checkbook Cover finished!

As you know, there hasn't been a ton of sewing going on around here lately. April was a busy month, and I wasn't feeling particularly great for most of it, so even though I started this month's Style Stitches Challenge bag right at the beginning of the month, I only (finally!) finished the Beautiful Balance Checkbook Cover today (technically, not even April anymore).
I was happy with how it turned out in that in looked and acted like it was supposed to. I liked my choice of fabrics (some home decs I picked up from Joann's several months ago), and it was definitely one of the easier patterns we've done so far. It's a complete joke that the Cosmo bag was a "beginner" project and this was "intermediate." I think someone messed up during editing. :)
However, on the whole, I think this project was a fail. First, it seemed like kind of a throwaway addition to the book. I mean, who uses checkbook covers that much anymore? It would have made more sense for AB to make it into a wallet, which some others in the challenge actually did do. But my bigger issue is in its actual construction. Like I said, it goes together well, and the instructions (except the final step, which I found a bit confusing and I think incomplete) are nice and clear, but the final product is SO incredibly bulky. I don't think the fleece is necessary at all. Others had mentioned this in their reviews, but I decided to follow the pattern because I feel like you should try it once — everyone's entitled to their own opinion, after all, and I might not have agreed with them. But in this case, everyone else was right. Leave out the fleece. The cover is so large as to be almost unusable. I handed it to Matt, and he just said, "I'm unimpressed" (and he wasn't referring to my work).
I do think I would consider using the pattern again, but I'd definitely modify the pockets to hold cards, so it could be used as a wallet, and I'd only use the regular interfacing, not the fusible fleece. Also, while I liked my fabrics, the home dec was completely unnecessary. Quilting cottons would have worked just fine (and maybe better because there would have been less bulk in the seam allowances).
Also, full discretion here. When I got to the final step, I attempted to follow the directions, stitching in the ditch to match up the seams and then adding topstitching on each side of the seam. On the outside, it looked great. But you'll notice in the picture above that I couldn't get my seams to line up, so the stitching looks completely wonky on the inside. It's bad. Thankfully, I don't think people will really notice unless they look closely, but it was definitely an "oops" moment. C'est la vie.

I'm linking up to the challenges at My Crafty Crap and JemJam.