Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pillow Talk

Reorganizing the workshop and playing around with my new embroideries is getting equal time.

pillow talk

I embroidered out the pumpkin pile embroidery and the acorn and sewed them into some fall pillows (in the shop now). I love the aqua color with the natural-colored fabric and oranges of the pumpkins. That vintage-inspired pumpkin fabric is so cute - see it up there in the corners. I'm not a real lover of Halloween, so I don't have a lot of ideas of what to do with the fabric, but I did buy a good amount of it. I made up some fat quarters to put in my shop but haven't listed them yet. If you'd like some, let me know. I have some fabric on the same line with ghosts already in there. My friend is always looking for green acorns to decorate in the fall. I have a bunch of green acorns falling around here, but by the time I save them up for her, they turn brown. So, when I saw this acorn applique design, I knew I'd have to make up a pillow for Teresa. Now the green will never fade.

Here are some pillows made before the embroidery machine with soft flannels and buttons. They are so cozy and remind me of the Adirondack decorating spreads in fall magazines.

Halloween Bib

I did make some bibs with the pumpkin fabric and backed them up with toweling.

Here is something scary:

It's parents weekend at my son's college, and we are hanging out with him these three days. This is his half of his small dorm room. He told me he spent TWO HOURS cleaning it the other day. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Holiday Embroidery

prim crow and pumpkins

(Read all the way through. Treat at end!)

There are so many new and awesome embroidery files coming out lately. The designers out there are getting better and better at this. I love the stack of pumpkins above. I've embroidered that out on the nubby cotton I picked up recently, and I am going to make it into some sort of quilt block for a pillow. The embroidery comes out just as beautiful as the photo.

This mosaic turned out more like a sneak-peak of these designs.

new embroidery files 092408

The files might have been too large for the program, but I hope that means you'll visit my flickr embroidery design set and check out some designs I have just picked up.

Knowing that most of us reading the craft blogs have nearly the same skill set, I am trying to entice you to order embroideries sewn out on fabric for you to use in your craft projects. There are so many options. If you have something sewn out on wool felt, you can cut around it and make it into an applique or back it up with another piece of felt, blanket stitch all around, and make an ornament.

There is also an embroidery set of nearly every quilt block that you can think of, too.

It sews out in perfect squares for one to make a whole quilt. However, that would be a huge job, but how about one or two squares of a design embroidered out to embellish a coordinating pillow or bag? There are also labels that match the quilt blocks, too. I can add your name and date to the design. Just ask me, and I might be able to create something special for you.

What can you dream up on a small scale? If you will check out the embroidery file set I have on flickr and then send me a comment sharing your ideas, I will draw two names this Sunday and send those two readers their favorite design sewn out on proper fabric. You just have to promise to make something with it, photograph it, and blog about it for me -- of course telling everyone what an awesome collaboration this is. I don't want to call this a g-away, so that only you reading this far that care will comment, so let's just keep it between us. I'm looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Supplies

shop update 092208

The orange/fall cotton bias tape is all carded up now and in the shop. I was able to make quite a bit out of this yardage. I have packaged the trim with a 10-inch square piece of matching fabric, so you'll have a nice piece to accentuate whatever you use the trim on. You could make a set of potholders with a coordinating color, applique a pumpkin in the center with the orange fabric, and then trim all around with the bias tape.

Also, if you ironed out the tape (but that would be almost a shame - it's a lot of work to get it folded properly!), it's the perfect width to make piping. So, a nice pillow made with a solid cotton or linen, accented with the fabric piece, and then piped all around, and you are so coordinated!

What do you think about the pretty pumpkin-fall-foliage embroidery? I worked that out on some nubby cotton. The panel is about 10 x 8.5 inches, and all the above applies! Pick up both the bias tape and the embroidered piece, and you would have the beginnings of a lovely project. I only listed one panel, so - if it is taken right away, please let me know if you would like one, too, and on what size panel. I am going to use the other pumpkin I embroidered out to make a throw pillow using the log cabin block idea and build out from the center with fall calicos. And, then I think I'll pipe it just to go all out. Maybe a nice brown textured fabric for that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Patchwork Un-Bias Tape

Shop Update 092008

New patchwork un-bias tape is in the shop today. This trim is created from a number of quilt-quality calicos I have been using lately and mostly cut on the straight of grain. There are some designer fabrics in the trim, including some Heather Bailey, Cotton Blossoms, and Amy Butler. All the fabric was washed, dried, and ironed before fashioning the tape. The listing is for 4 yards.

I've got some orange true bias tape coming up tomorrow probably; I just have to finish ironing it all. You can see the shade up there in the second picture of the tape. In the far right corner, there is a soft orange fabric with darker orange leaves. The oranges are very nice shades, and I will include a large square of the same fabric with the trim, so you can make a coordinating pocket or applique to match it. I have also noticed some sewists trimming skirts and tops with bias tape now (I can't find an example at the moment), so, again, you'll have some extra fabric to do add more craftiness to your project.

There is another embroidered panel available for your crafting, too. It's the spring chicken everyone seems to like. The panel is large enough to make a pocket for an apron, add to the bodice of a girl's dress, make a potholder, or use as the center of a pillow.

Christmas Cottage Block Exchange Swap

There is a new swap forming. Nanette at Freda's Hive is hostessing a Christmas Cottage Block Exchange. She has a tutorial on making the blocks, so you can see if it is something you'd like to do as well. I think the blocks are darling and would be cute done up as a pillow. They can be easily personalized and embellished, too. Sign up is through Monday, 09/22/2008.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Carpool Crochet

Crocheted Items

Carpool crochet. That's what I call it. I was reminded of this when house on hill road mentioned her carpool busy work last month, and I got my yarn out when school and the yearly meetings and activities started up again.

Years ago, I started bringing crochet or embroidery with me everywhere. I think my kids' friends and their parents rolled their eyes when they saw me coming with my totebags of projects. However, it makes me nervous to just sit and wait with nothing to do wishing I could be shopping or thinking on all the work I had to do back at home. In the fall of 2002, I had CRAZY herniated discs in my lower back, and I literally laid down on the couch for three months. It's all a haze to me now. Due to the pain, all I could do was watch TV and crochet. I couldn't concentrate on reading, but I could crochet "upside down" with my hands above my head. I made lots of scarves, caps, and American Doll accessories while there. It put me on a roll, and pretty much every fall since then, I've run around with my yarn and projects in tow.

Thanks to poking around the lovely Etsy, I discovered these pretty fingerless mitten designs. I've never been attracted to these before, but I'm tired of scarves and hats (I have a bunch in the studio) and I needed a new carpool project to do. Until my 16-year-old starts to drive, I'm still waiting on her here and there. I made the pink striped set last week while she was at youth group, and I picked up this pretty Moda*Dea Visions last evening and made a set last night while waiting at youth group again. This yarn is LOVELY. It's a wool blend and so lush. I think they look knitted, actually. Next, I'm going to size up and make a pair for my husband. He can work outside for hours, even in the cold, and I think this style might work for him leaving his fingers free while doing small projects outdoors.

I've put the three above in my shop.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pecan Fudge Brownies - MS Everyday Foods

Camille and I were craving chocolate the other day, so I made these brownies. They are SOOO good. I think it's the brown sugar that makes them so different. Be sure to bake long enough. They are very fudgy in the center.
Pecan Fudge Brownies
from Martha Stewart Everyday Foods (September 2008)


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter paper; set pan aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
Place butter and chocolates in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and stir in sugars, eggs, vanilla, flour mixture, and half of pecans. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining pecans.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift brownie onto a cutting board; cut into 16 squares. Store brownies in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 5 days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Check, Check, Check ...

travel shoe bag

I told you, I am whipping out half-finished ideas out of the studio this week and into the calicodaisy etsy shop.

First up, travel shoe bags. I was struggling over what to give my dear friend for her birthday in August. Then I remembered she asked me to put shoe bags on my to-create list for her holiday gift list. So, perfect gift, I thought. I'll make her the prototype set. Aren't the shoes great? For a guy's version, I was thinking of using flannel, and I even have an embroidery design for golf shoes.

Deidre, if you've stopped by, well, now you know what's in the package!

Vintage Flour Sack Dishtowel mosaic

Then, I've been wanting to do some vintage-inspired machine embroidery on flour sack towels for quite a while. However, they just seemed so plain and huge, I wasn't sure how to accentuate them. While perusing the myriad of magazines I go through, I saw a towel with a scalloped border and decided that would do. I meant to add some ric-rac along the top edge, but I didn't have the right color handy. I think it turned it out darling. And, it's big enough to make a chef apron out of. I thought it would be a perfect half apron. Just cut to the proper length and add a casing across the top. Run through a long tie made from some coordinating cotton or a long piece of twill or ribbon, and you have a quickie half apron.

Reversible Basket Liners

Finally, do you know any Longaberger basket lovers? I've caught up on some reversible basket liners that I've had in the works for a while now. I keep promising one friend I will get to hers, but I've been procrastinating. These are the first covers I made for my own baskets. I love the L-berger baskets and liners, but my budget won't allow for too many of those purchases. I can make reversible liners for nearly any of the L-berger basket styles. If you do have a friend who has a thing for them, please let her know she can get a custom liner from me.

Okay, back to transcribing, then to women's Bible study, then back to the studio if I can stand it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Pocket For Your Posies ...

pocket mosaic

Or apron or dress or pants or totebag ... I've just made these ready-to-sew-on pockets for someone's project. One is 7.25 x 7.25 inches and another is 8-inches square, and they are lined in white cotton. They are listed in the shop.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whipping Them Out

Owl Applique

I'm on a mission in the studio - getting out some half-finished ideas! First, isn't this owl applique darling? I embroidered it out on some thin fabric with stabilizer and some fusible interfacing underneath. I've already carefully cut around the edges, and now it's a patch. Even though one can iron it on, I think it would be wise to stitch it down with some clear thread. I'm going to put these in my shop and see how they do.

mail sack bag

My son had a fantastic German teacher all four years of high school, and she retired at the end of this year. I've been wanting to give her a gift but wasn't sure what she would really like. When I heard she was travelling to Germany this fall, I thought the Mail Sack bag by Pink Chalk Studio would be perfect and asked her to stop by and pick out fabrics. I think it looks great embroidered with her monogram.

homespun mosaic

Next, I've been planning to make some window draft dodgers for a friend. It takes me so long to think about what to do. I saw this homespun, red and white ticking recently and bought the bolt, I think. Anyway, I bought some homespun white fabric as well and decided to embroider out the "home sweet home" sentiment, cut out a rectangle around the wording, and then applique it with a primitive sort of stitch to the draft dodger. The actual product isn't finished, so no pictures of those yet. I embroidered the panel about out in a red thread but didn't care for all the red going on with the fabric and stitching, so I just made another panel with blue for my project. I thought I would offer this 17 x 17 panel in my shop as well. This is a great example of work I can do for you to enhance your projects. Any wording, any fabric, almost any lettering, and it could be a sweet combination!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Need Embellishing?

Fall Embellishments

Here are some new fall embroidery designs I have picked up lately. A little embellishment can go a long way. I thought the owl and bird appliques would be perfect for a pocket on an apron or at the bottom of a little dress near the hem. They are also sweet on bibs and onesies, t-shirts for kids and adults, towels ... If you'd like something like this to embellish your projects, contact me, and we can come up with something.

embroidery appliques

I'd really like to encourage the idea of embroidering out my designs on fabric and then selling the panel for folks to work into their own projects. That saves me from having to create an entire project but allows me to offer something really well done and extra special for a crafter. The designs above are some test sew-outs I made for a designer this summer. Should you like this idea for a project you are sewing, we could choose fabrics from the internet for me to use or find a coordinating solid to work with the patterned fabric you have in mind.

shih tzu embroidered panel

Here is a great sew out of a shih-tzu embroidery. This one looks just like my Jip. I embroidered the design out on a teal decorator fabric and have listed it in my shop as an embroidered panel for someone to use in her personal creation. The size of the fabric panel is just right to make into a pillow or work into a tote bag. Nearly any breed of animal is available in embroidery. Do you have a little sweetie pet that you'd like depicted on fabric? We could add his name or a little caption. The sky's the limit here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Simplifying, Saving, Losing, Gaining

My plan after the high school graduation in June was to STOP THE MADNESS, slow down, and reorganize. Well, I didn't get to choose my start date; there had to be a bit more summer craziness and a lot more mind training before that could happen. So, as of September 1 - I'm just a week into it - I'm on my trek to reformatting my daily choices.

1. Simplifying: STAY HOME! DO YOUR WORK! GET RID OF ALL YOUR EXCESS GARBAGE (clutter/papers/magazines)! That's my mantra always, making myself do so is difficult. However, I am drowning in my bright ideas and supplies and office equipment, etc. I had to remind myself several times this week that I didn't need to go out and do that "errand" (translate - get some Diet Coke, look at fabric, go to the grocery and look at magazines). I have a notebook in my purse, and I can write down what I must have and then on a designated shopping day, I can decide if it is a worthy cause.

2. Saving: Well, doing the above should save about 80% of what I spend on the items and bright ideas that are drowning me! I haven't seen the effect of that yet, but I know it's coming if I stick with it. Part of this plan is eating at home, too. I LOVE to eat on the road (cheeseburgers and Mexican food). I love to cook, but I really love to eat out. So, I've worked on that all week and adding a good breakfast to my morning, which actually does lessen the craving for a quick run to Wendy's.

In this category, I can celebrate one success, though, and only my closest friends and family will know what a feat this is. Since August 1, I have "Quit Diet Coke Consumption in the House!" So, you do not have to have a cold stash of 12-ounce cans of DC waiting on me when I arrive. Now that's not to say I don't have DC everyday but just when I'm on the road, and there have actually been a couple of days that I haven't had any, though I did miss my bubbly.

I have been working toward this for quite a while. Mostly because obviously drinking something like DC so often throughout the day is not healthy. I'm 44 next month. I don't want to be fat and 50 and that's my path right now. I don't think DC necessarily makes one fat, but, if you long for something to distraction, no matter what it is, that could be lesson #1. Number 2, I do listen to what I hear, and I have to think that the researchers and doctors who say that all the artificial sweetner screws up the message to our digestive systems and then we might think we are hungry or want a sweet when we don't, yada, yada. The DC all day for me just can't have been that good.

More important than all the personal and published reasons to quit DC for me is my 16-year-old who has wanted me to stop drinking it fanatically for years. She said recently, "Mom, it's just a drink." And, of course, it is just a drink. Why would I continue to do something so ridiculous just because I want to (love to, crave) when I want my daughter to be better than me in all health issues in her life? When she put it out there like that - it's just a drink - what better example can I be than to say, "Absolutely. I'm done." So, stopping purchasing it for home consumption was a big thing, and now she watching me out on the road, too!

Thanks to Jody at JavaJem who let me use her "NO DC" button. She has a great little blog. She is an awesome crafter and knitter dying yarns and sewing. You'll have to read why she quit DC sometime.

3. Losing. Not only body weight but clutter weight. You know all about that, so I won't go on. One thing that really keeps my goals in mind on both fronts is I have friends that take good care of their bodies and their homes. On the clutter-housekeeping subject, this has never been one of my skills. I can work with someone cleaning; it's just carrying on alone that is hard for me. I see the whole huge job and try to think of ways to delegate. My husband, on the other hand, takes things task by task and gets anything done fast. I note that my friends with the loveliest, freshly-cleaned homes also view their work that way. Just get started and get done. Friends who are more like me, well, we struggle with wishing to get to something else, another bright idea on the horizon, and, look, here's that magazine I haven't read yet. I'd better read it now before putting it away ... I have made no success on this front this week, however, I have called, e-mailed, and begged my most organized friend with availability to come take care of my office and papers this month and will compensate her appropriately, too, so she gets something out of this as well. Once this monkey is off my back, I might start doing better.

Oh, and there is FlyLady. I've read that off and on for years. I have the plan printed out to follow.

One more losing success - I've been exercising with a friend on and off by walking and going to exercise class. I'm adding more of that to the schedule.

4. Gaining. Masting all the loss above will be my gain. Simplifying frees up time and energy to take care of myself and family. Saving money is obvious. Saving my health by exercising, not depending on DC everyday, and eating at home. Keeping a clutter-free home and business will be invaluable. Saving my sanity and making good decisions personally and financially by being better organized and managing my time better will be good for EVERYONE.

I understand that it takes 21 days to make a new habit. Well, I'm giving myself 30 days of September to "get started" and then reevaluate into October. Hopefully, though, by working toward all the above and feeling success, it will be obvious to me that there is no need to change the path but to plow foward. I just have to keep reminding myself ....