Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sew a Retro Christmas Ornament

When Katie over at Sew Woodsy asked me to participate in her annual 12 Days of Handmade Ornaments series, I had visions of all kinds of things in my head like cookies, pies, -- and oh yes, polyester and French knots!

Out of that mess of ideas was born this retro Christmas ornament made from my great aunt Maude's stash of 70s polyester. Check out the retro ornament tutorial to sew your own. And yes, there are French knots involved.

Don't forget to enter the Cricut giveaway while you're there!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sewing with Knits: The Miz Mozelle Dress

I've been pushing myself more with sewing lately, working with slippery fabrics and learning techniques I normally don't try. My latest challenge? Sewing with knits.

It took a while to get a decent shot of me in this dress because I had a cold and my nose kept running. Do you see any snot running down my nose in this one? Or maybe you're seeing my gross watery eye. I was not feeling glamorous.

Pattern: Miz Mozelle Dress by Jamie Christina
Fabric: Blue and silver metallic fabric on clearance at Joanns
First worn: To see the Wham Bam Bowie Band (David Bowie cover band, obviously) and it totally held up for comfortable dancing.
Make it again? Definitely! I'd go one size smaller, though. I know it's supposed to be loose, but mine felt kind of wide in the shoulders.

I don't have a serger, but after making a polka-dot knit pencil skirt over the summer I was pretty confident I could sew an entire dress on my sewing machine. I even made my own binding (gasp!) and hand stitched it to the inside.

Emma's post on Spoonflower about sewing with their new performance knit was very helpful to me. She talks about what the zigzag stitch should look like -- which was really important to me since I was previously using a narrow zigzag that was making the hem draw up the knit fabric.

My zigzag stitch test swatch

Do you have any tips for sewing with knits?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sewing Pin-Print Clutch

I've been on a bit of a clutch kick since I made my Flowers and Butterflies clutch a few months ago -- and since I discovered how convenient clutches are when you don't live in NYC and have to carry your entire life in a bag.

I needed to make a bag that was a little more fall and winter-appropriate.

The fabric from this clutch came from the Anything Fiber Sale & Swap I attended last month. I can't remember how much I paid for it, but I feel like it was around $1.

In other news, my sewing machine became ill after I finished this project. I took it to the sewing machine hospital/fabric store to be repaired today. I just hope it comes back safely and without emptying my bank account. Oh, how I miss it!
What do you do while your sewing machine is getting repaired?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sea Coral Crochet Necklace

It's funny what can happen when you're just messing around without any creative direction. I was getting burnt out on knitting and sewing one day, so I grabbed my trusty crochet hook and just started crocheting. This necklace is what came out of that.

A day or even a necklace like this would've never happened when I lived in New York. Since moving, I've been feeling so much more relaxed and creative. That's why this necklace really makes me happy.
Have you ever started creating without a project in mind?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Win 9 Craft E-Books with Chronicle and Craftsy

From Amy Butler's Style Stitches

Do you ever buy digital craft books? In honor of Craft Month at Chronicle Books, I've teamed up with Chronicle and Craftsy to bring you a giveaway that'll make you swoon and shake in crafty anticipation: 9 craft e-books! The collection includes everything from Amy Butler to Jenny Hart, so enter to win by September 28th -- and if you don't win, check out the awesome deals on the e-books anyway.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Decorating with Books

via Instructables
Ahhh, books. I love to read 'em, but I find it so difficult to cut them up for crafting. However, seeing things like this colorful book headboard makes me rethink that decision. Head over to Quirk Books today to see my post on 8 Ways to Decorate Your Home with Books.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Craft Book Month Blog Hop: Peter Pan Blouse

Craft Book Month

It's time for the 3rd Annual Craft Book Month at Craft Buds! I'm so honored to be one of the lucky crafters chosen to participate in the blog hop. I have so many wonderful craft books hanging around my apartment. This blog hop gave me a chance to work on some projects that have been on my to-make list for months.

For my project, I chose the Peter Pan Blouse from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. (Also on my to-make list: that gorgeous brocade dress on the cover!) If you get around in the sewing world, you probably already know Gertie from her New Blog for Better Sewing.

My favorite thing about this book is that it teaches you skills that you won't learn from just any sewing pattern. I've sewn a fair amount of patterns from different companies, and never before have I tried some of the techniques that are in this book.
Dude. I drafted this Peter Pan collar myself!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Theirs and Mine: JCrew Polka Dot Pencil Skirt

I recently discovered the well-hidden JCrew clearance outlet right outside of Asheville. Clearance is about the only way I'll pay JCrew prices, so off I went.

Before I left, I picked up a catalogue and found plenty of inspiration in the pages -- especially when it comes to polka dots. But to pay more than $100 for a skirt? I'll make my own knock off, thanks.

Pattern: Modified pencil skirt pattern from Sew U Home Stretch
Fabric: Knit fabric from Joanns
Notions: Elastic

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

DIY Wire-Wrapped Ring

I love making birthday gifts for friends, and these wire-wrapped rings have become one of my birthday DIYgo-tos.

Now you can make them, too! Check out my Whimseybox wire-wrapped ring how-to and I promise you won't be able to stop wrapping. They're fast, easy, and a great way to use up random beads from your stash.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Liberty Lifestyle Coin Purse

One of my favorite fabric collections is Liberty Lifestyle. I made a top using this fabric, and as usual, I couldn't bear to throw away any of the scraps. What better project than a coin purse?

Grab a purse frame and head over to Whimseybox for the how-to, including making a coin-purse template for any size frame.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Simplicity 2444: Sewing with Slippery Fabric

I admit that when I first saw Simplicity 2444, I was seriously turned off by the gigantic bow and the cape collar. But as with any other pattern, you have to look past the packaging and check out the elements of the dress. And I'm so glad I did!

From now on, I'm referring to this dress as my Cinderella dress. The dress turned out a bit fancier that I intended, and I felt like I was going to a ball when I put it on. Definitely a good twirling dress.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Will It Go Round in Circles: Spinning Yarn

Last Saturday, Haywood Community College hosted a free community craft day to preview some of their classes in continuing education. The free classes ranged from making bracelets to quilting a pillow, but I decided to choose something entirely different that I'd never tried before. Fiber spinning!

I walked out of the class with a two-ply and single-ply yarn spun from Romney wool. (Nothing to do with Mitt Romney, though I do hear his home state is a great place to raise sheep.)

Fiber spinning isn't the most accessible craft to try, especially since the wheels can cost around $600. And let me tell ya, spinning is difficult. The class lasted about 3 hours and by the end of it, I was just starting to get in a rhythm. (My finished yarn was far from perfect, as you can see.)

As a knitter, crocheter, and yarn hoarder, it was nice to see the work that goes into spinning by hand. I also got a better understanding of plies, fibers, and all the technicalities of yarn.

I don't think it would benefit me, financially or otherwise, to buy a wheel and spin my own yarn, which makes me wonder: why do spinners choose to spin?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kids' Sunprint Tees the Cheater's Way

I always wanted to test out sunprint fabric, but the kits can be expensive so I never tried it. Instead, I used fabric spray paint to make these t-shirts -- kind of a cheater's way of creating a sunprint look.

Head over to to see the how-to. Get ready to forage in your own yard!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Flowers and Butterflies Clutch

Do you read Mollie Makes? It's one of my absolute favorite craft magazines. The most recent issue had this amazing clutch project in it, so I whipped one up!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Reupholster Dining Room Chairs

Check out Whimseybox today for my how-to on how to reupholster yucky dining room chairs. I took my second-hand dining set from puke-yellow to fun flowers.

No crazy carpentry skills are required. (Trust me. That birdhouse I built in 11th grade is proof that I can't even use a hammer and nails.) Just make a run to the craft store for a few extra upholstery supplies and start stapling!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fruity Marimekko Coasters

Visit Whimseybox today to see my how-to for making Marimekko coated-cotton coasters.

Coated cotton isn't nearly as painful to work with as oil cloth, but it delivers almost the same result! And for all you non-sewers out there, there's also a version using glue and pinking shears so you won't feel left out.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Vintage Singer Sewing Cabinet

Since upgrading from a shoebox NYC apartment to this NC palace, I've brought in a lot of furniture that I could never fit (or even transport) to NY. This sewing cabinet that belonged to my grandmother is one such piece.

I remember this sewing cabinet well from my grandparents' house. I was never allowed to use the sewing machine that was inside of it, but I was allowed to sit beside my grandmother and hand stitch while she used it. She sewed a lot of things for me using this cabinet, from a pretty green jewel-toned cape to doll clothes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Twirly Circle Skirts

Every time I see a circle skirt, I want to squeal, "Weeeee!"

I found this circle skirt in a closet at my parents' house, half sewn and wadded up in a plastic Joanns bag. The pattern came from one of those panels you can buy, where you cut on the dotted line, then follow the too-simple instructions printed right on the panel.

I bought the panel when I lived outside Pittsburgh as an AmeriCorps volunteer and spent what little money I made at Joanns. (I know. Sad.) I cut out the skirt and sewed the side seams, but never bothered to do anything else. So I pulled that sucka out of the bag and finished it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Vintage Pattern Giveaway

The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to winner Meg!

I love Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day because it helps me meet so many new crafters. Hello, there!

What I'm Giving Away
Three vintage sewing patterns:
Simplicity 6934
McCall's 7759
Simplicity 9610

These patterns represent two very lovely decades: the 70s and the 80s.

What You Have To Do
Just follow my blog, then leave a comment telling me about an outfit from childhood/teen years that you thought was really awesome, but now makes you cringe.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Knitted "Pearl" Necklaces

I've never been a fan of pearl necklaces [insert sex joke here]. They remind me of Barbara Bush and the girls who worked in Hillary Clinton's Senate office. (Side story: When I worked for United Way of America, we'd drop off public policy literature in the Senate offices. Hill-C's office was chock-full of the exact kind of girl you'd think would work for her: sweater sets, pearl necklaces, hair pulled back in sensible updo -- stereotypical Wellesley.)
Anyway, a knitted pearl necklace is another story. I made Knitted I-Cord Necklaces a few weeks ago, and I was riding the I-cord train when I saw this pattern in Knitting from the Center Out. I didn't like it at first because the pearls went all the way around the necklace. I'm way too impatient for that, so I just made five pearls in the middle and called it a day. It's prettier that way, don't you think?
And you know what makes these pearls so pearly? Cotton balls! Yep, just regular old drugstore cotton balls are stuffed in there.

I gifted this necklace to my friend Jessica for her birthday, but I want one for myself, too!

Knitted jewelry is awesome. If you have a favorite knitted jewelry pattern, tell me about it so I can add it to my to-do list.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Great British Sewing Bee: Addicted

That does it. I'm hooked on the Great British Sewing Bee.

Before you say it, this isn't Project Runway. Project Runway is about design; this is about actual, in-real-life sewing. There are little how-tos in each episode, like how to sew curtains and pillows. There are neat diagrams and illustrations to teach you about French seams and other techniques as the sewers work their way through challenges. There's even history lessons about fashion!

And my goodness, everyone is so nice. It's almost unreal. You won't find any of the cattiness of Project Runway, and in between challenges, they all go to the local café and drink tea. Tea! I even spotted some of them drinking tea right by their sewing machines. Oh, how I love the British.

I was also thrilled to see Tilly from sewing blog Tilly and the Buttons as a contestant. It's funny how well some bloggers can translate their actual personalities onto their blog. That's certainly the case with Tilly. She's just as sweet and cute on the show as she is on her blog.

Watching the show really inspired me to get in my craft room and pick up a dress I've neglected for a few weeks. Watch Episode 1 on YouTube and just try to stop yourself from watching the other three. Do it!

And if you have watched the show, who was your favorite?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Knitting Posts on Craftsy

Remember how I told Martha Stewart to take my job and shove it a few months ago? (Just kidding. I didn't have the balls to do that. We're still friends. See? I linked to her website!) But I did leave the MS empire to be a full-time freelance craft writer/editor.

My lips are zipped regarding a lot of the projects I'm working on now. But one I can share is writing knitting posts over on Craftsy's blog. The latest one is about how to knit in seed stitch, and there are gonna be many others to follow.

Craftsy, if you don't know, is an educational craft site with amazing instructors. Courses and workshops are taught via video. You pay for the class and the videos are yours forever, plus you have access to the instructors so you can ask questions. It's a craft site I've always been a fan of, so it's really awesome to be working with them.

Have you ever taken a class online? Was it helpful?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mohair Toddler Tutu

As an unmarried, non-preggers gal, I feel a little strange having a book called What to Knit When You're Expecting on my shelf. But man oh man, when I saw this mohair tutu, I knew I had to make one for my niece's 2nd birthday.

The patterns in the book are only sized up to 6 months, so I had to do some fancy math to make it the size I needed for my niece. (Don't you hate it when teachers are right and you actually have to use math for something you need? Bleh.)

I made a few changes to the pattern -- changes to suit my new I-don't-know-when-I'll-get-paid freelancer lifestyle. I only knit one layer instead of two, mostly because I really wanted to use the Debbie Bliss Angel yarn, but I couldn't afford to get enough balls to make two layers. I also pulled a plain cotton yarn from my stash instead of buying new yarn to make that teensy little waist.

The only problem: I'm not sure what my niece should wear this with. Should she go full-on ballerina and wear a white leotard? Or is there another option?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Kids' Easter Corsage and Boutonniere

When I was a kid, my mom made a bunny corsage for me to wear to church every Easter -- matching poufy dress included. Now she makes them for my niece and nephew.

They're quick and easy to make. Just grab an artificial carnation or rose, then hot glue eyes, nose, mouth, and whiskers on. Use pipe cleaners to make ears, and you can fasten the ribbon bow with wire, then wrap it around the flower stem.

These can be worn around the wrist using elastic as the base, or worn as a boutonniere fastened with a pin.

What Easter traditions did you have as a kid?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Remembering Aunt Maude

Aunt Maude was awesome. There's just no other way to describe her.

She was in her 90s. She was my great aunt and my neighbor. When I was a kid, she provided me with enough jewelry and gowns to play dress-up for hours. She watched Project Runway. She called Martha Stewart a "bitch with a bad haircut" and all the Housewives "bitches and whores."

She also crafted hardcore.

Random wooden and plastic beads from Aunt Maude's stash
When Maude passed away a few months ago, my mom and I went through bins and bins of her crafts. I had already gone through dozens of other bins when she was still alive (in fact, this lunchbag I put on the Martha Stewart Crafts Dept. blog was made with some of her polyester fabric), but there were more. They were stuffed in closets, in the attic, in empty bedrooms.

I have plans for this beaded collar that looks like it was removed from a formal gown.
As we looked through the bins, Mom and I could see the dreams of a crafter. Aunt Maude had cut legs off of pants, collars off of shirts -- planning to recycle all of it into something else and just never getting around to it.
We couldn't possibly keep all of it. If we kept it all, we'd end up much like her someday, in our 90s with bins and bins of fabric and patterns that we never had the time to make.

Random yarncraft needles

My mom thought it was sad that Maude never did anything with all these supplies, but I looked at it differently. It's so fun to go shopping and dream of what you can create out of the fabric and buttons you see. So what if you never get around to making it? I'm sure Aunt Maude's head was filled with a lot of creative ideas every time she picked up something new.
I'm putting some things, like the vintage patterns below, into my Feisty Redhead Etsy store in hopes that the patterns will make some vintage collector very happy.

Vintage patterns
Have you ever inherited a lifetime supply of crafts? What did you do with all of it?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reversible Amy Butler Swing Bag

Many years ago, my friend Danara sent me a crafty gal's Christmas present dream: a package full of fabric and an Amy Butler swing bag pattern.

I'm ashamed to say that up until this week, I hadn't touched anything in the package. Now that I'm freelancing and no longer living in fall-into-bed-unconscious-because-I'm-so-exhausted NYC, I'm finding that I have time to do a lot more projects than before.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Patterned Fabric Coasters

Since moving to Asheville, I've acquired some nicer furniture than the IKEA setup I had in Brooklyn. One of those pieces is a dining room table I bought when I lived in Pittsburgh.

My mom refurbished it for me and it's quite beautiful. This means I can no longer use craft knives at the table, cut fabric, and leave drinks. No, that was crazy Brooklyn Ashley. Now that I'm sophisticated (teehee), I use coasters.

I took the materials for these straight outta my fabric stash. They're reversible, and I lined them with some quilt batting scraps I had. I think I see place mats in my future, too.

Have you ever sewn any functional home décor? There's a lot more fabric where this came from!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Crochet (Possibly Old Lady) Ruffled Collar

When I saw this Crochet Ruffled Collar designed by Drew Emborsky, The Crochet Dude on Simplicity, I thought it would look good over solid-colored shirts.
Naturally, I had to take a shortcut. Instead of working the collar with crochet thread doubled as the pattern suggested, I dug into my yarn stash and used a lightweight cotton yarn.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Crochet Toddler Cleire Cardigan

During Hurricane Sandy, I uploaded an in-progress shot of this cardi on Instagram. Because I was trapped inside for days, I actually completed it in time to give it to my niece for Christmas.

Why isn't there a photo of your niece wearing this, you ask? She's not a fan of clothes these days, and by the time  you get her to put one article of clothing on, she's stripped off three other things (including her diaper) and is running around screaming, "Nakie!"

After trying this on her, I replaced the buttons with larger, flower-shaped ones because these kept slipping through the buttonholes too easily.

The pattern for this came from Comfort Knitting & Crochet: Babies & Toddlers. It worked up fairly quickly, and I love that it looks a bit like a little swing coat on her. The tricky part is when to wear it. It's not heavy, but it's not ideal for hot weather either. I think my sister-in-law will end up pairing this with a long-sleeve tee shirt underneath for transitional spring and fall weather.

Have you made any baby or toddler clothes? How was the fit?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Knitted I-Cord Necklace

When I was at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC, I stopped by the Kollabora table to say hello to Mary Beth Temple. Mary Beth was knitting I-cord and turning it into some fantastic Celtic knot necklaces.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hello, Asheville

For nearly seven years, I was a happy resident of Brooklyn, New York. I had great friends, an enviable job, and a nice apartment. But I wasn't happy.

I still love Brooklyn, but it just didn't feel right for me anymore. I thought about moving for several years, and then things started to fall together in that the-universe-is-trying-to-tell-me-something kind of way.

When the universe spoke, it said Asheville, North Carolina.

Photo by Evolver Asheville

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Vogue Knitting Live New York

Talk about some yarn porn. I went to Vogue Knitting Live in NYC a few weeks ago and regretted not wearing horse blinders to the marketplace.

I spotted the Bloom Loom at the Boye booth. Seriously digging all these colors.

The main reason I was at VK Live was to assist Jean Moss with her Japanese-style short row class. Here are some of Jean's samples from the class. I wasn't familiar with this particular short-row technique before this, but now I'm a convert. (Here's a how-to if you want to give it a try. I swear it's easier than wrap and turn.)
A lot of the ladies in the class saw the sample on the left and envisioned a knitted skirt or necklace.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Reconstructed Basket-Weave Tee Shirt

When my friend Kristen brought this basket-weave shirt as her project at my crafty birthday party, I have to admit that I panicked a little. It involved way too much -- gasp! -- math.

Kristen had never used a sewing machine before, so the two of us put our noggins together. Kristen figured out the length of the strips, cut them, and even did some of the sewing.

We used two basic long-sleeved tees from Target ($6 each). Kristen cut strips out of one shirt that served as the horizontal woven pieces, then wove those pieces into the vertically-cut strips of the other shirt. We pinned and sewed it along the side seams.

Jersey doesn't work as well as something like a sweatshirt because the jersey curls in, giving you more space between weaves. But I still liked the finished shirt.

The most impressive part? We worked on this shirt until midnight after work on a weekday, and we didn't mess it up!

Have you ever reconstructed a shirt?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cozy Scalloped Cowl

It occurred to me that my last two posts were both about boozy craft parties. Sorry to let you down with this boring post!

Sometimes my mom randomly buys a few skeins of yarn and asks me to make her something with it. This Lion Brand Jiffy yarn is one example of that.

She only bought one skein, so I searched the Lion Brand patterns to find something small. To my surprise, this scalloped cowl popped up.


I gave this to my mom as a Christmas present, even though she technically chose and paid for the yarn. Is that wrong? Eh.