Monday, June 30, 2008

pretty summer top tutorial on belle epoque

I just had to quickly post this tutorial on belle demonstrates how to make a perfectly fitted yet easy drawstring summer top. Check it out. So pretty. Now...for those of us who need bras (that is...because of having two kids and all....). What about you? Feeling like letting "the girls" go free and easy? hmmmmm....

flower embroidery in progress

I started with a few French knots, inspired by this tutorial. Then...I kept expanding the knots. And expanding. Now I have a lot of filling in to do...maybe. I think I'll add streaks of pink and red to the petals and call it quits...any ideas? It's about 4 inches across now...I think I will use this on a throw pillow...

The strange thing about embroidery for me is that it's like making little drawings. Sometimes I just start, with a stitch, and a colour, and then react to that "mark", whatever it is, by adding more, then deciding what it could be, then start that way. It's very relaxing and I love it. I don't really have a mind to a finished product, but I am keen to create utilitarian stuff. That said, I like (the very talented!) Jodie's idea to simply put the owls on the wall. Maybe to watch down over a little person sleeping...Hoo! Hoo! Have a lovely Monday.

Roosters-N-Rickrack Pinafore GIVEAWAY!!!!

Roosters-N-Rickrack Pinafore GIVEAWAY!!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

curly bird and q.b. owls

Happy Saturday. Last weekend, my dear mother-in-law gave me her ENTIRE (unused) collection of tapestry threads (SCORE!!!) so...I sat with a piece of linen and, stealing time here and there, made these embroideries. The first one is two birds, for my daughter. The baby bird has curly hair and the more plain mother does not. Like us.

The second little thread sketch is actually an ode to the brilliance of the artist/writer Quentin Blake and his book "Mister Magnolia". (We have recently ordered from the library ALL available Quentin Blake kids' books.) Mister Magnolia lives with owls. Here are two.

I have not decided what to do with these birds -- any thoughts?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Lovely Contest From Grosgrain

Grosgrain: Do you like my clothes? Do you want them!

She makes the most delicious kids' clothes. I covet most of her creations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yellow Summer Dress

Hi all. I'm a little behind in my blog -- work is getting the better of me -- but I'll catch up soon. I did a few new crazy embroideries over the weekend. And, belatedly, I'm posting this dress I made for my daughter. You'll recognize the Denyse Schmidt fabric, likely. No pattern on this one...just "wung it" which means the arm holes were not notched -- forgot that step! - but otherwise it makes my daughter happy. Yellow is her favourite colour. Have a great evening.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anna Maria Horner fabric

Look at this lovely fabric at designer anna maria horner's shop. I have a swap to sew for soon -- placemats and napkins -- and am debating using this. If I can find it in Toronto. I am hoping the workroom will be bringing it in in time for me to make them before the July 7th shipping deadline. If not, I will use something in my GROWING MASSIVE stash of fabric. I am hooked. It's a new vice. Eek. Stop me!

Today was a nice morning with the children, taking them both out to do errands. We did the boring stuff -- ink cartridge for the printer...and then down the street to cafe Patachou for a snack. It's a nicely decorated cafe (with a kind of modernist-nature theme) full of ladies-who-lunch and designer types and I loved how animated my 5 and 3-year olds were at the sight of origami birds hanging, and a row of (fake but gorgeous) wedding cakes. And confusion when the waiter "interrupted" our conversation. Then off down the street to a very expensive French frou-frou design/decor/perfume shop, to "peek". I thought they'd run screaming, as it's totally over the top with girlie stuff. This place is a very gorgeous but dangerous to take two youngsters. Glass piled everywhere, ostrich feathers, narrow lanes between antiques, glasses piled, liquid scent balanced on a tray balanced on a get the picture...but they loved it! We smelled and voted on perfume, tried on massive straw hats, and my son coveted a chunk of fool's gold used as a decor accessory. He had a two dollar allowance. It actually cost 69 dollars. So uh -- no. Anyway, it was so pretty & over the top. Just a nice moment with kids. You know when you walk along with your kids, and they brighten the faces of the people who pass? A morning like that.

That's all for now. Work is taking over so will post some new projects in a few days. Have a lovely Friday and weekend. xo ella

Monday, June 16, 2008

free fat quarter

I've been buying fat quarters because they're bee-yoo-tee-ful but now I feel I need to send a couple out there into the world, as a gift for blog readers. I am also wondering if anyone reads this thing...hmm...SO. Send me a comment and two will be chosen at random next Monday. They will each get a wee package in the mail.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

tamara child treasure purse

This is something that sort of got away on me. I started thinking I'd make a simple little purse for a girl who's turning five. I sewed the one centred butterfly on with the beaded letters. Then added another butterfly, cut out of scraps and tested the blanket-stitch on my new-used sewing machine. Not bad. Then...added another butterfly to try to fill it out a little. Then tested more stitches, failing to master the french knot again. Covered that mess up with a "flower" of pink ribbon. Then that was indecipherable as anything but a "blob" I added little stitches to the centre...sewed the whole design on the turquoise animal back and it was crooked - so added that felt flower on lower left to balance that out...and it just went ON AND ON! What was supposed to take me a half hour -- an hour tops -- took at least two, maybe three, I think! I had to laugh at myself at eleven at night! Crazy! Then I just had to line it with this great silver fabric that is perfect for costumes...But all that said, I was very pleased to be giving it to a sweet, dramatic and energetic young girl. Obviously named Tamara. I hope she likes it. Despite the flaws. I don't LOVE it but it's cute for a child and made with affection.

Stinkbug shorts hit the dirt

Here are the completed "stinkbug shorts" I wrote about a couple weeks ago. Finally. Yesterday I put them on my son and proceeded to a 5-year old birthday party outdoors, where he got into dirt, pink lemonade, pizza, chocolate ice cream cake, and mysterious globs from the plant nebulae or something - or maybe that's just cedar chip debris. So, technically, these are "before" pictures. I have to say I'm kind of happy with them especially considering they are a version of that one-piece pants pattern I found on line (see a previous stinkbug post about that). The favourite part for me is the brown hand-stitching on the back pockets. But that's just me. I'm into those little hand-stitches these days. Also, I was concerned a lack of zipper on the front would look goofy on a boy his age -- but it was okay, I think. So -- now to check and see if my spot-cleaner really works. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

tutu closer view


A pink tutu for dress-up, for my 3-year-old daughter (who likes to combine dance with yoga and an odd move where she simply sticks her tongue out). The tutu is simply made of grosgrain ribbon, elastic, and rectangles of netting which I left with edges raw. I love it but she is already growing out of it! The netting was a little maddening to sew on my old Kenmore. I have since purchased an old used Husqvarna workhorse, which is great.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Aqua "Muskoka" Pillow

Here is an 18 x 18 patchwork pillow -- my first patchwork. The back is unbleached linen. A friend called it a "Muskoka" pillow. I had fun making it and although the strips didn't line up perfectly (thanks to my lassez-faire sewing approach to seam allowances) I am happy with its cheerful colours. I think the next one will be more "perfect". Looks cute as can be on my white couch, if I do say so myself. (By the way, if you want one -- or one with different colourways, drop me a note. I'd love to make another one as a custom order. Might be fun!)

Sleeves go Chop Chop

I'm crazy busy with "work" work, up against a deadline so the blog will have to wait a day.

But I just had to mention this last week of school for the little ones. My son just left for final day of Junior Kindergarten. Sniff. He has only long sleeve crisp shirts...and a million I impetuously cut down the sleeves of a Zara Kids dress shirt in about five minutes using the colour thread that happened to be in my machine. He was happy with his new short sleeve shirt and the perfectionist mother in me was pleased he went to school looking snappy. Lucky for me the material was a grid pattern so I didn't need to measure too carefully...just count boxes. Have a wonderful day, all. (Sniff).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh my gracious.

There are such beautiful blogs out there. I am discovering such a lovely, female, gentle community that is attached to handcrafting. I am addicted. I want to go there...and there...and there... For example, last night I discovered this unbelievably beautiful blog. Sugar City Journal.

It is by far my current favourite. Look at those stairs! And the dresses! And coats! Hours of yummy entertainment. Two sisters-in-law share the blog and are obviously very very gifted.

My pal in LA sent me a comedy bit. You MUST check out Demetri Martin's comedy act if you want a laugh. Somehow he's connected to arts and craft. Those drawings....what do you guys think?

Have a nice Wednesday. More pictures coming later today. A patchwork cushion & a crazy embroidery...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Happy Monday!...and the SECOND winner is... :)

Cleanangel from Florida! I'll be sending something cute your way soon. Thank you everyone (esp. Bizzy B, Woolywear) for your comments. Unfortunately you make me want to sew and make stuff more...when I probably should be working on "work". The joys of working at home. No-one knows what I'm really doing....Boohahahaha.... :)

As I may have mentioned, I'm not really an "embroidery person", but I had a great crafty weekend testing out some Constance Howard stitches while my kids ran around in the yard. So far attempted: french knot, cable, satin, pekinese. And some crazy stitches that don't make any sense. I see now why people created samplers. Though there's not a hope I'll try something that is not utilitarian. I ended up making two small odd-size fuschia washed silk sachets. (I'll call them "sachets" because they are so small I don't know what else to call these little bags. ) I embroidered initials of my daughter's art class teachers (one for each) and they were cute ... BUT you'll have to take my word for it!

Anyway I was too zoned out this morning before art class to take a pic! Next time. Not used to having a blog -- and no apologies, I swore to myself when I started. :) This morning I finally found a mens' hat pattern after searching high and low. Project is secret for now.

Also I'm very excited about doing my first swap! I am to make something for a set of placemats and napkins for a fellow swapper/blogger in Michigan. How cool is that? I've been curious about screenprinting on linen....hmmmmm....

Saturday, June 7, 2008

and the winner is...

Heidi. She will be receiving a custom clutch bag for posting the first comments. Which I accidentally deleted. Gist of it was, "nice work!". Thank you to friends who said nice things about "toast'n'eggs". I finally admitted I was secretly blogging. Came out of the crafty closet! The glitch is, a friend won my "first comments wins a treat" contest. So here's the scoop: if I don't know you personally (yet?) and you leave comments, you, too will win something lovely! Good luck!

Latest around here is my excitement about borrowing the book "The Constance Howard Book of Stitches" ISBN 0713489383. It's full of the most amazing stitches for embroidery. Very 70's and organic, some of them. But this is obviously a classic. Check it out -- I haven't sorted how to write "here" and then link. So here's the link to one bookseller chosen at random.*listing*title

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

stinkbug embroidery

Here's the boy-shorts pocket. I ironed a little patch of interfacing on the back. The embroidery is obviously freehand. I should get the hang of using markers to sketch the design first, but I'm kind of happy with this little bug. The colour in this pic is a little more accurate than the close-up.

Here is a robot wallet made for my son. Crazy stitching, huh? But he loved it and was very anxious when it went AWOL for a couple days. He keeps his own school photo in there. Kind of funny. Like his momma.

the stinkbug pocket

So, here's the new, revised, smaller stinkbug. Once you add the beady eyes it really takes on a life of its own. :) I'll finish the shorts up soon and post them. This photo is a little wonky, colour-wise. The fabric is actually chartreuse green. Shows me for trying to shoot pics at night without natural light.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

cy twombly slide show

Check out this short slide show on the Guardian's site.
It may inspire the fabric painters out there.

And, now a kind of contest for a new blog: The first person to send me a "hello" note will receive small free fabric surprise in the mail. Not sure what yet. Keep you posted!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stinkbug - original, too wonky/large!

today: new (used) rotary cutter...& stinkbug

Alrighta! This morning, on kijiji (on-line classifieds) here in my city I found a stash of sewing stuff for sale. Someone selling unused sewing odds and ends, and for 30 bucks I received a Kai rotary 5045 cutter, gold embroidery snips, pounds of buttons, velcro, hooks and eyes, and odds and ends. I'm most excited about the rotary cutter. Which is new to me. Now to get a cutting mat. (This used to be the way to go in art school -- an Exacto knife, rubber cement, and Letraset, making collages and slicing out the little letters to stick on...which would never go on quite straight...pre-Mac computers! That's right, kiddies, PRE-COMPUTER! ;)

This week my mission is to make boy-shorts. I bought some lime linen to make them for my son (from a tutorial from craftsanity ( but I'm stuck on the embroidery detail on a back pocket. He wants a "stinkbug". After finding a picture, I started. The first one I attempted was about 3" high, which alarmed the boy. He saw it and made that "ummm...uh..." face. So -- back to the drawing board. I just finished a smaller one. He's happier. I appreciate a child's honesty! And it was fun. I'll post the finished shorts soon. I hope.