Sunday, February 28, 2010

Clean Sweep...

With all the projects I've had in the works, my sewing room has been getting progressively more and more cluttered and well...downright dirty. It was really starting to get to me (and other members of the household), so I decided to do a big spring cleaning in there yesterday. The room is small, which is bad and good...bad in the sense that it closes in on me when I have too much stuff out, but good in the sense that if forces me to deal with the mess as it happens. Problem is, I tend to just put up the big stuff and let the little stuff (like buttons, beads, pins, and dust) stay wherever it lands. I've been putting off the vacuuming because I really didn't want to suck up any of the good stuff with the crevice tool. Yesterday I decided something had to give, so I went a little crazy ripped out all of the carpet.

Underneath the icky carpet (which was passable when we moved here, but quickly became beaten down and sullied with gatorade and tacky glue) was what every homeowner hopes to find in an older house...nice hardwood floors! They could stand refinishing, but that doesn't make a shred of sense in this room. In fact, I think the floor is absolutely perfect for a work room! I'm looking forward to adding some scratches and paint blobs of my own in the coming years :) .

The room feels so much warmer, and I love that my chair's wheels are actually functional! I know I'll deal with the little bits and bobs better now that I can just sweep them into to a pile and sort, too.

I love my bare I'm ready for a bare yard! Come on spring!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dolly Hugs for Haiti

Yesterday a.m. I was getting my daily dose of Craft Gossip, and I came across a post about something very bright and beautiful. The Dolly Donations Blog offers free patterns and instructions for making sweet dollies to give to charities. Spearheaded by Sarah Hanson, a talented and energetic artist, the drive brings crafters from around the globe together to provide comfort to children in need. Currently, they are working to make 181 dolls for the Abundant Ground Foundation, which will provide the dolls to Haitian orphans.

I used Sarah's pattern to make six little sweeties (3 boys and 3 girls) to donate. They were so fun and simple to put together. It was a dreary day in Maryland, but the bright fabrics and cheerful smiles brought sunshine to my heart!

Louie helped me pick out the fabrics and hair colors for the boys, and also helped with the stuffing process. I love his choices! We used a soft denim for the legs, so they are all wearing jeans. Doing the project together really gave us the opportunity to talk about helping others, and to count our blessings.

The girlies are all decked out in Sis Boom dresses and stripey stockings! I had so much fun with their hairstyles. I used pompoms for the pink and yellow haired girls' "puffs" and a fun mix of yarn for the purple haired girl's ponytail.

These dollies are made from a very soft and cuddly flannel. I used my embroidery machine to stitch out the faces prior to cutting the fabric. I digitized the faces myself - the girl has long eyelashes and a dainty mouth, and the boy has an impish grin. If you have an embroidery machine, and would like the files, I'm happy to share (bear in mind they aren't perfect, I just don't think like a digitizer when it comes to jump stitches, etc.). Just drop me a line (carla(at) and tell me what format you need :) .

The donation deadline is March 31st, so you still have lots of time to sew up some sweet dollies for this cause. For inspiration, check out the Dolly Donations Flickr Pool. This is such a wonderful way to reach across the world and give a warm hug to a child. And just by looking at your finished creation, you will feel hugged back a million times over!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Walls of a feather....

I'm still working on decorating the upstairs bath, and I'm trying SO hard not to be too matchy-matchy. A bathroom is such a tiny room (relative to the rest of the house), and it is really easy to go overboard with a theme (I know because I've done it with pansies, leaves, boats, and fish). In this bathroom, the wall adjacent to the shower was blank except for two towel racks. I wanted to stick with the regal peacock theme, but also keep it pretty simple. I looked online for prints and decals, but couldn't find the dimensions/look I was after. So I just broke out the acrylics and painted a simple feather on the wall.

The nice thing about flexible, organic things like feathers is that they don't have to have a set shape or color, so your drawing skills don't have to be perfect. I used a real peacock feather as a "live" model, and it really helped me with the proportions etc.

I added gorgeous Sis Boom Stephanie Paisley Appliques to some peacock blue hand towels and hung them on the towel racks below the feather.

If you look closely, you can see I added a family monogram over the applique. I tend to like dainty fonts that get lost in terry cloth, so putting them on fabric is the only way to go. It gives a bit of a quilted appearance to the applique, too.

Before I go back into the bathroom (still one more wall to do, you know) I want to give you a heads up about some GREAT giveaways going on across the blogosphere...

Desi over at WeeShare did the sweetest review of the Sis Boom Sophie Tunic, and is giving away three patterns from my Etsy Shop. Isn't her little daughter the cutest??? The drawing will be held on 2/22, and she gives you lots of ways to enter. She has scads of great giveaways going on all the time, so check her out!

On the Sis Boom Daydreams blog, Jennifer is celebrating the release of her much anticipated So St. Croix line with a Fat Quarter giveaway! You have until Sunday the 21st to enter. Not one, but three lucky winners will get fat quarters representing the entire line (18 slices of heaven in all). This is gorgeous, gorgeous stuff folks!!!

My good friends Kim and Kris (the talented chicas behind and SWAK embroidery) are "dishing out" a series of free, fun, and very educational videos over at their new blog, The DIY Dish. Get on over there to find out how you can enter to win a Janome sewing or embroidery machine - wow!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A throne room fit for an empress...

I've had this gorgeous Hoffman Empress Garden Fabric for about a year now. I love everything about it...the regal peacocks, the lotus blossoms, and the golden accents. I've almost turned it into pillows, tote bags, pajama name it. Since it was so pretty, I've kept putting it back, hoarding it for just the right project. The other day it occurred to me that this fabric would be just the thing to jazz up our boring upstairs bath.

Above is the before pic. The shower curtain came with the house, and I actually really liked it. In our last house, we had a pink and brown bath, so I just threw out the same rug and hand towels. I also put the basket from a former nautical-themed bathroom above the toilet (it holds the very important back-up TP rolls). Everything was functional, but there was no theme, and I wasn't loving the brown and yellow color combo.

I decied I needed to work in some jewel tones, and that peacock print is just loaded with 'em. I was really tempted to frame up some of the fabric, hang it on the wall, and call it good. Being that I had blogged about framing fabric twice in the last month, I figured that I should step it up a notch and actually sew something.

I ended up using most of the fabric to make an extra layer for the existing valance. I also made some matching tiebacks, and Louie and I "blinged up" the tassels with wired strands of beads and silk ribbon bows.

I swapped out the print of Venice with some soft water lilies by Monet. I prettied up the basket with tassel trim from my stash. I rolled up a towel and tied it with a pretty bow to put atop the basket (it is still full of TP, but now it looks like it holds fancy guest towels).

I did go ahead and splurge on some new handtowels and a bathmat (on sale at Sears, but they are so very plush and nice). I added the Sis Boom Ann Flower Mural embroidery design to two bright pink hand towels.

Here is a closeup of the design, which was expertly digitized by Heather Kite of Frou-Frou by HeatherSue. I love how the motif ties in with the feathers and the blossoms on the shower curtain.

I still have two other walls to decorate, but I'm going
to have to sit and think about them for a bit...
(sorry, couldn't resist throwing in just a little potty humor)!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My little cherub...

These pictures are five years old now, but they melt my heart every time I look at them. Baby Louie and I did this photoshoot for daddy on our very first Valentine's Day as a family.

I made the heart out of some velveteen scraps and a hand-drawn heart pattern. It was stuffed with grocery bags because I didn't have any poly-fil. He still has it, and loves the crunchy sound that it makes.

I didn't have an embroidery machine in those days, but I did have sharpie markers in the box that held the contents of my freshly-cleaned out desk from the lab. I just hope the fumes didn't get to him too much!

This is my favorite...he is telling me "enough pictures, time to eat!"

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

and speaking of LOVE...I am overwhelmed by the show of affection over at the new Scientific Seamstress Fan Page on Facebook! Some of my biggest supporters (sorry, the word "fans" sounds so New Kids on the Block) started the page, and they did it totally in the interest of getting the word out about my patterns. Thank you Marlo and Cathy!!! This is the place where you can get the latest news about patterns in the works, and also give your input as to future projects you want me to tackle. There are also individual discussions about each pattern. ALL of my awesome testers are members of the group, and they have experience with every pattern, so they are truly the BEST resource when it comes to questions (I'm not ashamed to say it...they know my patterns better than I do)! If you are on Facebook, please join us! I just posted a sneaky peek of the next Sis Boom pattern (hot mama version of the Cathy), if that is any incentive :) !

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sweet Cathy!

Remember last summer (back when it was warm and sunny...sigh) when I went up to Jennifer Paganelli's Sis Boom paradise with my dear friend Cathy??? Well, I was totally "verklempt" over all the beautiful fabrics and clothing, but luckily science teacher Cathy kept her eagle-eyes peeled for designs that would be just as fun to make as they would be to wear! She scored a touchdown with what has become our latest pattern, and we giddily named it in her honor!

The Cathy Dress/Top is an adorable, easy-to-make ruffle neck frock in sizes 6/12 months to 11/12 years (you know we love to give you a huge size range in our epatterns)! Jen's gorgeous niece Sophie modeled one of the originals a few years back. I grabbed these amazing pictures out of Jennifer's Sis Boom Sightings Flickr pool! Her bright smile and great tan give me hope that summer will be here soon!

This style is truly perfect for little ones and tweens alike. You can make a full length dress for the beach, a spunky little top, or something in between that can be paired with leggings if the mood strikes. Our wonderfully talented friend Simone and her stunning daughters did an incredible job showcasing the different looks that one can get from the Cathy pattern. You can see all of her beautiful photos right here on Jen's blog.

Sophie is showing off the original single-edged bottom ruffle design. Our super-tester Tom had a great idea for a double-edged bottom ruffle (to tie in with the collar...very balanced and aesthetically pleasing), so we added it as an additional option. When Tom speaks, we listen!!!

Check out the product page on YCMT to see all of the testers' incredible creations.
They made up the whole range of sizes/styles and they are lovely! And check out Cathy's latest blog post to see one of her little sweeties dressed up in the design named for her mama! They are riding out the same blizzard that we are right now....crazy! I think I am just going to close the curtains, crawl under a quilt, and think spring!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Warming up the fireplace...

We have a really great fireplace in our contemporary family room. We haven't done much with it other than add a padded bumper to the very sharp corner at the bottom of the hearth (black duct tape blends nicely with the dark green marble). I actually love the look of the natural stone, and I didn't want to cover it up with something big like a mirror or a picture.

I found these sweet metal owls at the Goodwill. My guess is that they are from the 70's, but I could be off by a decade or so. They were the right size, and just perfect for the natural theme I have going in that room. The only problem was that their coloring was just about the same as the fireplace. Camouflage is a great thing for owls in nature, but not so much for owls in home decor.

I hit them with some copper spray paint, and they really gleamed. Even though they reminded me of the cool mechanical owl from "Clash of the Titans," I decided the look was a bit too garish for that space.

So I went over them with a bit of moss green craft paint to give them a verdigris look. The copper accents still stood out, but in a much more subtle way.

I hung the owls up on the stone with 3M Command picture hangers. They are great in situations where you really don't want to drill. I decided I wanted a small "mantle" to hold tea lights and/or little vases of fresh flowers (depending on the season). I spray painted a shelf my awesome engineer dad built for me to hang in my first apartment. It was a light oaky color, but that didn't really work on the dark stone. Black was just perfect, however. It is also hung with numerous large Command strips. I even bought a funky ceramic tea light holder at IKEA last week, but it was involved in an unfortunate Nerf football accident before I could get pictures. It was too big anyway, so I just put a few tea lights in ball jars from the basement. I also hung a sparkly crystal to spread light around (and ward off future Nerf ball attacks).

You may have heard...we got whalloped with a record-breaking blizzard. We got close to 30" in the Baltimore suburbs, which is A LOT for this part of the country. I decided that I would do all of the shoveling in the interest of giving my hubby a break and also getting a good workout. What was I thinking??? It took me 4 hours to shovel out the driveway, front walk, back walk, and sidewalk. Towards the end, my wrist started to ache, but I just pushed on through. I think I sprained it, because it really hurts to do little things like fold laundry. So for the rest of the weekend, I think I am just going to curl up in my easy chair and enjoy my newly decorated fireplace!