Thursday, August 11, 2011

secret crafty hobbies

I have a secret. I <3 yarn crafts. Crochet and knitting are my private craft enjoyment. My great-grandma taught me to crochet when I was about thirteen and rekindled my interest in college (lack of space in a dorm room for a sewing machine!) A coworker my senior year saw me crocheting and asked if I wanted to learn to knit. Of course! So now I do both, although I still haven't gone much past basic stitching in either.

I read some awesome advice somewhere in blogland (sorry I can't remember where) that said when you run your own craft business, you should always save one aspect of craftiness for yourself and don't try to sell that product that you make. So when I'm starting to feel burnt out, I create with yarn! Don't get me wrong, I'm not awesome. Far from it! But it's fun and I love it, plus I actually get to craft and hang out with my hubby at the same time!

Usually I pick up knitting in the fall when there's a chill in the air and I start to realize that if I want to make Christmas gifts, I better get started! Most people get stockinette scarves, they're easy to work on during craft fairs because you don't have to remember how many dc's or purls you've already done. Lately I've been gathering patterns and practicing for some gifts. This year it's cowls! They're great because they don't bulk you up like tucking a scarf into your jacket would, plus they're a lot quicker to make! I love to use super bulky yarn because it works up so quick. I started early this year for some reason. Here are a few completed projects from this summer.

The first one is knitted and is going to be part of a gift set for my BFF! The rest are crocheted using varying size needles to try to get slightly different sizes. The patterns are both from Lion Brand's website. I think the ivory and green ones might end up being gifted. The striped one is for me! I was actually able to use remnants from a scarf I made a loooong time ago for a swap on Can you tell I accidentally twisted my chain when joining the loop? I think it makes it look cuter! No?...I have enough yarn for another.

So the reason for this yarn-y post is actually not the projects I've been completing lately. Do you ever pass something everyday without truly seeing it? Turns out this adorable yarn shop, Cornerstone Yarns, has been located on my way home from work for over a year!

I had just been thinking how I wanted to immediately buy yarn for this little girl vest pattern I just downloaded from Ravelry, first seen here at One Flew Over.

Photo courtesy of Georgie Hallam

I can't wait to try to knit one up for my niece! I actually bought the pattern because it looked SO adorable in newborn size. No, nothing to share with you all yet! But I want to be prepared. I'm going backwards here and making the 6-year old size first as practice and gifting the vest to my niece. Maybe some progress photos soon? Luckily this yarn shop is less than three miles from my house and they offer free help, yay!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

finally, my work is complete!

Well, not everything. But I did finish a few WIP in the past few weeks. I've bought a TON of new fabric lately but I was waiting to post until I had a completed project to go with it. First, the fabric-y goodness!

A few weekends ago I visited a local fabric shop that I absolutely adore called The Polka Dot Pincushion. How could I not be drawn to a store with the phrase "polka dot" in the name?! The purpose for my visit was to increase my stash of red fabrics. I'm trying to be a little more well rounded with my use of fabric. Prior to this shopping trip, this was my stash of red and orange:

Most of those pieces are even just scrap size! I think I did well in choosing some great new red a few extras! The top two green fabrics on the stack on the right are actually hard to find fabrics I purchased at the very same shop about three years ago, and I always wished I had more. When I saw those half yard pieces I had to pick them up. Those have been tucked away, probably to remain in my stash for years to come because they are too precious to cut.

The reds are coming up soon on the list though. I was resistant at first, but I think I'm going to have to hop on the red/aqua bandwagon. I'm envisioning a paintbox style quilt...we will have to wait and see!

And now for the finished project! Remember when I posted about this quilt top back in May?

 It lingered all neatly folded up on the edge of my ironing board for months, basted and even partly - if horribly - quilted. Finally I ripped out the wonky lines, ordered a walking foot, and today I got some time to test it out! I loved it so much I finished the quilt today. Now it just needs to be washed and dried to get that awesome crinkly look (and get out any dust it may have picked up from the back of my sewing desk). This one is going in the shop!

I also made a present for the kittehs, a kitty tunnel from the book In Stitches by Amy Butler. The recipients don't seem to be fans so we don't have any actual photos of them enjoying it. Here is a placeholder!

Somebody totally loved this box. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

new purse design

I've created a new purse design that I'm confident will be a huge hit! This one was made for my best BFF ever D$, who is also my photographer hence the awesome photo.

She loves red so I used sturdy red duck cloth, of course, for the exterior and straps. The bag zips closed and the bottom has a little bit of depth to it to hold all the necessities. The patterned sections on the front hide two slip pockets. I added the white ring to the strap for a different and fun element to the bag.

Although this will be a london purple bag, I designed it specifically with her needs and tastes in mind because they're so different from mine and can offer a customer perspective that's hard for me to see sometimes. I love big bags that can hold everything including the kitchen sink, which you'll see in my next blog post showcasing the prototype I made for myself. Although D$ claims to love all my designs, I've watched her preferences over the years and she usually just carries a few things with her - keys, wallet, cell phone. This purse will hold exactly that!

I plan to make these in a wide range of colors and prints, it can be a bold everyday bag for girls who love color and a minimalist style, or the perfect standout accessory for a night on the town when you're only carrying the basics. I'm thinking of coining it the Camden Town Bag, any other name suggestions?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

projects for my home

Ok, I've been a little selfish lately. While I should be making new bags for my shop, I've been only sewing things for myself and for my home. But I can check items off my to-do list and that's always good!

Here are some Nine-Patch Doorstops made using Oh, Fransson!'s tutorial:

I made these because in the summertime we have problems with doors suddenly slamming shut due to the slightest breeze. The green one is for our green and white first floor guest bathroom, and the yellow and grey one is for our master bedroom. I haven't actually filled them with the beans yet, have to run to the grocery first. And I just realized while taking the photos that I forgot to quilt the yellow/grey one. Oh well!

A note about the tutorial - as always her tutes are super simple and easy to follow. She recommends to interface linen, I did not. I felt like it would have enough substance with the fusible fleece you add later. If you know how to install a zipper, do it your own way because I didn't realize how odd it was until I was already past the point of no return. But overall a great tutorial, I would love to put some of these in my shop!

Next project, two pillows! Also made using a tutorial from Oh, Fransson!. The large pillow is from her Chopped Vegetables tute (available for sale in her shop), and the small one is just made from leftover pieces. There are a TON. I wish I had known, I could still make another mini pillow or two with all the extras.

And here they are in their new home! I plan to fill this chair and a half with tons of quilted pillows.

As far as my sewing time, I haven't been completely selfish. I made a gift for a friend (a new style purse!) and a doll quilt for my niece, photos to come after the gifts are given. And I do have a few completed bags to go in the shop but all I have is a crappy camera. I would love to save up to get a new one! Any recommendations?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Storage!

This is my accomplishment for the day. I built this storage unit (well, maybe not built...but I had to use a screwdriver and a hammer!) and I organized my fabric and filled it up! I need to find things to fill the small cubbies though. This was the last of my patterned canvas to be put away. Red, orange, yellow and green all have space on my Ikea shelving but blue, brown, grey and black were just chillin on the floor for awhile.

Can you believe I got this unit for Christmas and I'm just now getting around to putting it together? Ok if you know me personally that might not be too difficult to understand. I just didn't have a place to put it. Even now it's just hanging out in front of the closet. My sewing room is in desperate need of a rearrange!

As far as works in progress...I've been sorting fabric for future quilts! You can see some finished purple/white/brown squares for a Mod Sampler Quilt are taped to the closet doors (no room for a cool design wall, like I said, desperately need a rearrange!) and I've pulled fabrics for five more quilts! Coming up are:

The pluses quilt from i heart patchwork in aqua and yellow like the photo
A pink and brown baby quilt, pattern undecided 
A blue and brown baby quilt, pattern undecided
A bright yellow, orange and pink New Wave Quilt
A quilt using fall colors, pattern undecided

Also, a quilt top that I just finished up is this super cute, super simple striped quilt below! I think it's perfect for a young girl who's growing out of the baby pinks, or new parents who don't want the traditional pastels for their little girl.

I did attempt the quilting. The only appropriate sized batting I had on hand was Fusi-Boo, which apparently you can press onto the fabrics to eliminate the need for basting. Let's take this opportunity to do a little product review. I can see where it wouldn't be bad for small projects, like ones that fit nicely on your ironing board. The weight of the quilt hanging off made it hard to press perfectly. Before I got the hang of it there were some smushed parts on the backing but I was able to pull them off and re-iron neatly. I wanted to quilt vertical lines because I thought the perpendicularity (a word? judges?) would look neat. It was immediately apparent that while the pressing appeared straight, some stripes must have been off because they pulled and puckered and now all of my quilting needs to be unpicked. We'll try horizontal lines next.

So that's what I've been up to! Any tips or better experiences with Fusi-Boo? Pattern suggestions for the baby quilts?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

my first completed quilt on my own!

I had to throw that last bit in because when I was in high school, my grandma helped me to make a quilt for my full size bed. At the age of 16, when all I wanted to do was hang out with my first boyfriend and drive around in my very own car, I was forced to spend many hours hand quilting with my grandma. Of course I had no patience for it and gave up, but it was a nice quilt anyways.

So onto my very first quilt made all by myself! I used Amy Butler's Mid Mod Pattern (available for free here!) but I reduced the size of the bordering fabric to make it lap size. Figured I'd start small.

Here it is! I used a blue/brown/white color combination. All the fabrics are from my stash! That is what I'm truly proud of I think. Even the surrounding teal was on hand, I just had to purchase the backing (white Kona solid) and the brown binding. Because I didn't purchase any new fabrics to match specifically for this project, I don't think they all jive perfectly, but that's part of the beauty of it. It reminds me of the colorful quilts my great-grandma used to make using scraps of old clothing and feedsacks.

A close up of the quilting. I decided to go simple to avoid getting discouraged, and it still took me forever to quilt. I stitched in the ditch on each strip in kind of a blocky zigzag way. It was actually pretty efficient. On the teal, I just went in squares around the nine patch about an inch away from each other. I decided not to mark it and just eyeball the distance. It's actually pretty consistent and it looks handmade in a good way.

And a side note about this kitty bed I made for our two cats - they can't stand it! I'm trying to draw them away from my furniture, it's tiresome vacuuming the dining room chairs every week. The pattern used is the Moroccan Pillow from an older issue of Stitch magazine. If anyone is interested I can look up the exact details. I think I stuffed it too much. I've never seen either of them use it, but I looked and there was some fur on the top, so one of them must have tested it out when we weren't home. So far, I've only seen them lay next to it though. I used fabrics from Jessica Jones' first collection.

Maybe one day I'll be able to snap a picture of a kitty enjoying the pillow! Eh, probably not.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

quilts galore!

Ok I have to admit I have been a little bit obsessed with quilts lately. I browse quilt blogs at work (during lunch only of course!!!), spend half my evening pairing up my stash fabrics for possible future quilts, and I have been slowly finishing a couple works in progress. Here is one quilt that made it to the end this weekend!

This was a baby shower gift for someone at work. Can you tell it's going to be a boy? I never much liked sewing for boys but these fabrics are just adorable! I really loved picking out the blues and greens, which is their color scheme. Also, this is a super speedy quilt to throw together. I first saw the technique at craftlog and have made several over the years. Instead of embroidering x's at the junctions, I used a fancy asterisk stitch on my electronic sewing machine.

The backing is an ultra soft cuddly polka dot fabric. I think I need to make a quilt for myself with this backing! You can't see the batting (obviously) but I decided to splurge for a natural bamboo that was much more expensive than my usual natural cotton. I think I'm hooked now though! It added a very nice weight, which could partially be attributed to the backing I suppose. The real hook for me was that the quilt top stuck to it well but the batting didn't stick to itself like the cotton does.

And here's the set, I also made a Peanut from the book "Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts"! He is too cute, it's a great pattern. The only thing that threw me was the placement of the eyes. Going by the pattern it really looks funny, and it's completely different than the photo. Next time I'll just "eyeball" it! (I <3 puns, sorry!) Also, I left off the yarn tail since this is a gift for a newborn.

So back to quilts, I also finished a lap quilt that has been a WIP for at least a year. It was half quilted too! Not sure what the holdup was on that. Once we get away from this dreary weather I'll take some photos. The results of attempting to take photos on a super rainy day are above. Can't wait to start my next quilt!

Monday, April 18, 2011


It has been that kind of month. At least Key Lime Pie is just as delicious upside down, although considerably more difficult to eat. I am sad finishing off this particular pie though, it was purchased to eat on the last night hanging out with my awesome BFF before she moved over 400 miles away! And so this leftover pie signifies that she is already gone. So sad.

Also a sad day for london purple, because she really was the key sales force at craft fairs and the inspiration and official Bag Namer for several bags. I supposed the good news is that I have even more motivation to get into Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago this September. Chicago is not far from her new home in Milwaukee, so she can join me behind the table once again!

What a different mood from my last post. Sorry the photo is so awful, the camera was almost dead so I hurried, and of course the pie was almost gone by the time I uploaded the photo. Hopefully next time I will have better news and better photos!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

happy things

What's been going on since my last post? Been doing some sewing, I have a couple awesome custom orders in progress. I haven't been able to sew as much as I'd like because I've got pneumonia. =( Hopefully I'm almost over it though. Some things that cheer me up...

Hot chocolate on a cold day with tons of marshmallows! Sure to ease a sore throat.

My goofy niece who just turned four and loves to pick out her own clothes.

Safflower - possibly the new color of my sewing room!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Design - Kindle Case!

My Christmas gift from Tom this year was a Kindle! Anyone who knows me would definitely agree this is a great gift because I love to read. We spent two weeks in Hawaii for our honeymoon and my biggest complaint was that I couldn't pack enough books because of the weight! I think this is what inspired him to get me the Kindle. Well anyways, it seemed so small and vulnerable in my purse and it somehow got a scratch on the keyboard, so I went to work and created a nice padded case for it!

I've really been loving patchwork and quilting lately (you may notice I've added some quilting blogs to my favorites!) and of course I love pink, so this is what I came up with. The base is a nice soft, heavy linen in sort of a creamy grey shade. I added two layers of cotton quilt batting and sandwiched it with a plain muslin before quilting, just because batting on the bottom always clogs up my machine.

The inside is this wonderfully soft pink cotton from Prints Charming. I'm not sure why, but it is really the softest quilting cotton fabric I've ever used. That's why I chose it for the lining.

This is definitely going to be a new product for london purple. In fact, I've already got a commission for one! Someone at work saw it and will be ordering one for his daughter-in-law, with Steelers fabric! Speaking of the Steelers, as it's Super Bowl Sunday, I must say Go Packers! (I'm from Cleveland, it's just on principal.)

And it's been awhile since I've had some kitteh love in the blog. This is DST, remember there are some pictures of him from way back when he was teeny tiny? Now he's big and a little bit fuzzy, and he became really attached to this piece of tulle. So we keep it in the living room for him to lay in =D

Sunday, January 9, 2011

london purple is BACK!

Whew it has been awhile! I had a busy 2010 crafting for my wedding, but with the new year I am ready to kick london purple into high gear! My sewing machine has been abuzz for the past few months, mostly making some gifts for friends and items for around the house. I've been playing around with patchwork and quilting, and I am excited to incorporate these techniques into some of my products this year. Below are some photos of my latest projects. It seems like I have a log cabin fetish now!

This was my Christmas gift to my grandma's this year. They are quilted log cabin wall hangings. They have the same favorite colors - purple and yellow - but each one prefers one more than the other so they're slightly different on the bindings.

A little patchwork pincushion for my sister. Her gift was a pretty grey and yellow sewing basket filled with goodies, so I made a matching pincushion for her! I got the idea to make it a mini log cabin pattern from Pink Penguin's blog.

And finally, I'm working on a new london purple product for the home, quilted patchwork potholders! This is a prototype that I'm planning to give to my BFF. Her kitchen has sort of a red theme, so I hope they look good! It will be a set with a matching trivet.

I'm so excited to get london purple going again so keep following my blog to see new products and projects!