Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last half year according to the little camera...

We have a little Nikon Coolpix that sits on the windowsill in our kitchen. It isn't fancy, but it holds a battery charge like you wouldn't believe, and it is perfect for spur of the moment, must-capture events. Since hubby is a chef, it mostly grabs the "oh my gosh, this food is amazing and must be documented" type things. I just downloaded the last 6 months of pictures from it, and I see that we've also grabbed a few sweet family memories...

Del and Lou by the garden...all that remains is the chard, so it must have been pretty close to the end of the growing season. They are both barefooted, so it couldn't have been too cold yet.

Yep, it was pre-frost - the watermelon vines are still hanging in there.

Some sort of dumpling...they contained prunes or potatoes (or maybe both)?

Goulash - yum!

Snow!!! The little camera is great in adverse weather conditions, so out it went!

Good thing I married a guy from Upstate NY!

Even Big Buddy got into the wintry action...notice that High-Pro glow?

Enough of that, time to go in and eat and sleep.

This guy has his daddy's Northerner genes, I think!

Playing with the macro setting...

Not bad depth of field for the little camera, eh?

Inside and making rolls...

There is some special technique to knotting rolls, and Lou is a pro already!



Monday, December 14, 2009

Frayed rosette bib necklace tutorial

Bib necklaces are showing up everywhere this year! You can find them at high-end retailers like Antrhopologie, but the most amazing specimens I've seen are handmade and on Etsy. Just search "bib necklace" and you will be treated to big, delightful statement necklaces made from all sorts of cool materials. My very favorites incorporate soft, rolled fabric roses and lots of sparkly embellishments.

A few months back, Jennifer Paganelli asked me if I could make some blooms out of her gorgeous Sis Boom fabrics. We came up with a fun little technique and turned it into a tutorial, which you can download for free at There are so many things you can do with these little frayed rosettes...attach them to hairclips, picture frames, get the idea. Of course, they just scream BIB NECKLACE, so I decided that I needed to make a bunch so could 1) bring them to the Sis Boom show and 2) get this particular craft out of my system.

Since I was planning on making a dozen or so necklaces, I went ahead and made LOTS of rosettes. They don't take very long to make, and it is nice to have a "stash" to work from while creating. I used a mix of Sis Boom fabrics (mostly soft tonal prints, but I couldn't pass up the wild zebra stripe) and silk dupioni. The silk was very stringy, so it took a little more effort, but the resulting rosettes were so decadent. In addition to the rosettes, you will need:

Fabric-Tac glue
Thin needle and sturdy thread
Assorted beads, buttons, and baubles
Hot glue gun
A scrap of knit fabric

The first step is to cut the felt backing. I found a good, comfortable (yet still bold) size to be 6" wide by 3" long. I just folded the piece of felt in half lengthwise and cut half a crescent shape that was 3" wide by 3" long.

You can play with the shape on paper before you cut the might prefer something smaller, bigger, pointier, or even more asymmetrical. Just hold it up to your neck and see how you like it.

Now for the fun part...adding the rosettes! I like to use Fabric-Tac rather than hot glue at this point because it takes a while to set. I don't really have a plan when I start out, so it is nice to be able to move the rosettes around. Make sure to keep a warm, damp washcloth on hand so you can wipe off any glueblobs as that accumulate on your fingertips (those little boogers really stand out on black dupioni - ewww).

I made all of my rosettes pretty much the same size, but it adds so much more visual interest to use a mix of sizes.

It is very easy to unroll the rosettes to make them smaller. Just unroll until you get the desired diameter, and clip away the excess.

The cool thing is that the excess can be re-rolled into a second small rosette!

Glue the rosettes into place, covering as much felt as possible. Don't worry about small gaps between the rosettes, however. You can cover them with beads or buttons in the next step. Once you are happy with the rosette placement, let the glue dry.

Now, grab your box(es) of beads, buttons, broken jewelry, etc., and start embellishing those rosettes! You could glue the embellishments into place with a very strong glue, but it is actually really nice to sit in a comfy chair and sew them . Plus, I just think the stitching gives a better feel and more durability to the piece. I also ran some extra stitches between the rosettes and the felt (out of sight) to really make sure the glued rosettes stay put.

The back won't look too pretty, but that is OK because we are going to cover it up. First, though, we need to glue the ribbon to the back. I used silk ribbon because it is soft and nice and I have a ton of it. Satin or grosgrain ribbons would work well too - width and length are a matter of personal preference. I'd recommend starting with a yard and trimming down as needed.

Hot glue the center of the ribbon to the center of the backing.

Make a line of glue from the center to the corner, and work the ribbon into place. Get it as flat and smooth as possible.

The last step is to cover the backing. I uses knit scraps for this because they are soft, flexible, and won't fray when cut. Cut a piece that is slightly larger than your backing.

With hot glue, it is always best to work in small sections. This prevents premature setting and massive burns. Squirt a bit of hot glue on one corner of the backing.

Place the knit fabric over the glue and gently press into place with your fingertips. When it is cool, pull back the fabric and apply glue to the backing. Repeat until the entire backing is covered with the knit fabric.

Check the edges to make sure the felt is attached securely. Do touch-ups, if needed. Also apply a bit of glue to any baubles or beads that seem loose.

Trim the knit to the shape of the backing. If desired, tie some knots in the ribbon near the corners.

The necklace is ready to wear - simply tie around the neck! Can't you just see this with a little black dress or a v-neck tee? Here is an article that gives some great tips for wearing these fashion statements!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ding Ding Ding! WINNERS!!!

The winner of the awesome GwynHug cards is #15, Margaret! She said:

What a cool idea! My overbuy was for a maternity coat I made when I was pregnant with my second child. It was going to be reversible and in fleece. I bought enough of each color to make both sides the same. I am still making things with my leftover fleece 4 years later!

The winner of the eBook of choice is Jen! Oh, I can so relate to her post, and it made me laugh out loud:

I recently bought flannel to make PJ pants using your easy fits for adults pattern. I bought 8 different flannel prints in 2 yard cuts. Ooops! I needed 3 yards and only discovered this after cutting out the first leg of the first pair. Arghhhhhh! So I went back to the online store I'd bought the fabric from, only to find out that one and one other had been sold out. I made a second order of the same available prints in 2 yard cuts again (because 1 yard would make half-pants-half-shorts :)..... I did repurpose that one leg of flannel into a scarf. Do you want a pink frog scarf? Just kidding. I received one-half of the online order. Still waiting on the other half. So I could make a bunch of one-legged pants or else have a sewing frenzy right before Christmas. The moral of the story (and an old adage from my carpenter father): Measure twice, cut once. And I'd add: Don't guess! I need those cards Carla.

Margaret and Jen - please contact me at info(at) so I can send you your prizes!!!! Thanks so much to EVERYONE for sharing your great stories of fabric miscalculation!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sis Boom FUN!

I had an absolute blast at Jennifer's Sis Boom Holiday Show last week! I got to spend almost two full days surrounded by fabulous folks, gorgeous fabrics, and bling-bling eye-candy galore!!! I really meant to get more pictures, but I got caught up in the whirlwind of fun!

The cutting table was stuffed just before the show opened. It didn't take those bolts long to thin out! I had the honor of cutting fabric for lots of amazing crafters, quilters, and decorators. I LOVED getting to play mix-and-match with such a huge, beautiful palette of colors and prints.

Shoppers got a sneak peak at So St. Croix live and in person. Jennifer's sweet assistant Madeline dolled up the dressform with some yardage and a poofy pettiskirt. There were only a precious few fat quarters of this line for sale at the show, but it should be available from fabric shops in January - yipeeee!

This was my view from the cutting table. I made the little rag dollies popping out of the box using a modified version of the in-the-hoop Mini-Kimmie from SWAK. The awesome potholders hanging up against the window were made by Nancy Geaney of Dark Horse Farm Designs. They sold like hotcakes!!! She also had some beautiful treeskirts and adorable stick ponies (yes, I'm kicking myself for not taking more pictures)!

I also made some frayed rosette bib necklaces for the show, and they were a hit (woo-hoo)! We have a free tutorial that shows how to make the single rosettes. I'm working on instructions for making them into necklaces, so be on the lookout for another tutorial in the next few days :) !

Finally, here I am with my sweet sewing buddy Nicole and her darling baby Hannah! She went away with some great fabrics and patterns...I can't wait to see what she makes! I'm donning my Meghan Peasant Dress, which was so comfortable and easy to wear that fabulously busy day! I'm also wearing my Kay Adams necklace, which I could have sold right off my neck a couple of times. It fit right in with the vintage beauty and sparkle that Sis Boom is all about!

***There is still time to win the fantastic "How Much Fabric" cards from GwynHug!***
Just leave a comment here before tomorrow (10/9/09)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Must-have Scientific Sewing Resource (Giveaway)!

Have you ever been in a fabric store, spotted a bolt of pricey to-die-for good stuff, and thought "I'd love a shirt/pants/skirt made out of this, but how much fabric should I get?" You don't want to buy too much, because the $$$ can add up quickly at the cutting table, but of course there is nothing worse that NOT having enough fabric for your project. I usually err on the side of caution and overbuy, and that is why I have bins stuffed with wads of chenille, fleece, and wrinkled-up satin. Well, a group of amazingly bright, talented, and practical seamstresses have come up with a great solution for yardage conundrums:

The "How Much Fabric?" Reference cards by GwynHug are portable resource packed with yardage information for the savviest of fabric shoppers. I had the opportunity to check out a set of these cards and was blown away by how comprehensive and accurate they are. Over 2,000 patterns were used to generate all kinds of cool statistical data, which are presented in a cute, easy to follow format.

I cross checked the yardages from some of my patterns, and was thrilled to see that they were spot on consistent with the card set's recommendation. Even though I come up with the yardage charts for my own patterns, I can never remember how much fabric to get for a tunic, peasant, etc. Having these babies on hand takes out all the guesswork. In fact, I'm taking them with me to the Sis Boom Holiday Sale, where I will be working the cutting table on Thursday and part of Friday. If you are in the CT area, come see me and check out the cards in person!


You can win a full set of these great "How Much Fabric?" cards! Post one of your experiences with buying the WRONG amount of fabric (way too much or way too little). Come on, we've all done it ;) ! Next Wednesday, December 9th, I'll pick the winner of the cards by random drawing. The commenter with the funniest tale gets a free eBook of their choosing!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tiny Bubbles....

Jennifer Paganelli and I are proud to announce our newest arrival...the Sis Boom Carly Bubble Romper! Carly is the first of a series of Sis Boom Baby patterns, and she is making her debut on!

We just love this little sweetie, which includes separate patterns for sizes preemie, newborn, 3m, 6m, 9m, 12m, 18m, and 24m. Babies grow so fast, and we wanted to cover every stage!

There are 3 sleeve options - sleeveless, ruffled sleeves, and puffed sleeves.

And best of all, this romper is completely and totally reversible (I didn't originally plan it that way, but it worked and I ran with it - LOL)!

There are also multiple options given for the back and crotch fasteners.

These rompers are soooo perfect for personalization with applique or embroidery (think baby shower gifts)! The ruffle-sleeved romper above has the Amanda Fleur 5x7 embroidery design on one side, and the Amanda Fleur fabric on the other, huh? Thanks so much to my friend Laura for the amazing pics of her sweet baby girl, and big thanks also to my team of testers, who made some VERY cute rompers which you simply must check out on the product page over atYCMT!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Easy Fits for everyone!

The Easy-Fits Pants Pattern for Tweens, Teens, and Adults is now available on! It truly is the "grown-up" version of the popular child-sized pattern. Use it to make comfy jammies, casual capris, board shorts...there are so many options!

As always, my awesome testers were incredibly helpful with sizing, accuracy, and keeping me motivated! They were very enthusiastic about the finished product, and I love how their pants came out! Check out their pictures and testimonials!!!

I am now wearing the most comfortable pants EVER!!!! I finished my easy-fits and I LOVE THEM! I made a drawstring waist with a couple of button holes and some ribbon. I made a large and they fit over my belly now and I can cinch the waist for later. (note: this is from the very pregnant tester :) )

The easiest, quickest, most comfortable pants just grew up! Easy Fit Pants, by Carla C. was previously only available for children. Not anymore! With the creation of "Easy Fit Pants for Tweens, Teens and Adults", the entire family can now enjoy the the comfort and ease of the perfect pants! And with the ease that these pants go together, even the beginning seamstress or tailor can outfit an entire family in just a matter of hours! Stitch them up in cozy flannel or fleece for cozy sleep pants. The sports fan would love a pair stitched up in his/her favorite teams licensed fabric. Denim, corduroy or twill will dress this pant up for every day wear. You'll find endless possibilities with this versatile pattern that will quickly become a staple in your pattern file that you will reach for again and again! You won't want to be without either the Easy Fit Pants, or the Easy Fit pants for Tweens, Teens and Adults!

My favorite pattern EVER now comes in every size! Thank you Carla! Easy Fit pants are the simplest most adaptable pattern I have ever used and always the first pattern I recommend to new sewers. I have so much fun creating these in all sorts of styles and fabrics. My tween has outgrown the children's sizes and now I'm thrilled I can make her (okay, and myself as well) Easy Fit pants! I can't wait to get started on matching family pj pants!

YIPPEE one of my favorite kids patterns now in adult sizes for men and women!!! This pattern should be in the pattern hall of fame along with it original easy fits for kids. It is the perfect pattern for comfy pj's or cute comfortable pants. It is probably one of the easiest patterns to make too! It is a must have for everyone!

Big thanks to all of the testers for all of their great feedback and support! I also want to give a big shout out to Mari H., the wonderfully talented and sweet photographer who took the excellent pictures of the pants (lots of 'em) for the cover and product pics!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sew Comfy...

Oh why oh why didn't I make the grown-up version of the Easy Fit Pants Pattern YEARS ago? Oh well, it is probably a good thing I didn't come up with them sooner because when I put them on I just want to lounge about! The pattern should be out within the next week IF I can get up off the couch to add the last little details. I'll blog more about it next week, but basically it has the same options and easy-peasy construction method as the child's version. The size range goes from XXS to 3XL, so you will be able to make Easy Fits for everybody!

Speaking of comfortable clothing for us grownups, The Sis Boom Shana Tunic is now available on and Etsy. This stylish, relaxed top is just perfect with jeans, leggings, and capris. Jennifer blogged her mama wearing her Shana Tunic a few months back, and I knew it was something my mama would love too...

Isn't she gorgeous? And don't you just love that neckline??? It is perfect for showing off beautiful necklaces...particularly ones like this that are made by Kay Adams. Mom and I are big fans of this talented lady (you might be seeing the both of us on her blog in the coming weeks :) ).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Belle of the Ball

Ready for the next "princessification" of the Simply Sweet pattern? This beauty is a lovely yellow gown with off-the-shoulder swags and gathered peplum. These elements are very easy to add (despite the number of pics in this tutorial). Simple twists of the fabric give these elements the extra fullness needed to keep them light and poofy.

This dress is all yellow, which happens to be my favorite color :) . You could use multiple shades of yellow to add interest, or use a tonal printed fabric like the gorgeous Marie from Jennifer's Pretty Please line.

For this dress, I am using the jumper bodice (natural waist length option) with scrunched elasticized straps. Cut the pattern pieces as described. Also cut two strips that are the same length as your strap pieces, but twice as wide (bottom left on the photo below). These will be used to make the swags.

Using the charts provided, determine the dimensions necessary to make a skirt that is calf to ankle length. Cut the 2 skirt pieces as described. In addition, cut 2 pieces (same size as the first 2) for the peplum.

Sew the scrunched elasticized straps as described on page 13, and stack the bodice pieces and stitch the armhole edges as described on page 16.

Insert the straps into the front bodice as described, but only stitch the top edge at the position of the straps. The center should be left open for the swags.

Make the swags by folding the strips in half lengthwise, right side facing in. Stitch 1/4" from the long raw edges. Turn the tube right side out.

Run a two rows of basting stitches at one end of the tube. Open out the other end, and refold it so that the seam is centered on top. Maintaining this fold, run two rows of basting at this end. The swag should look like a tube of toothpaste at this point.

Fold the front bodice in half. Insert a pin through all layers at the center fold.

Gather the centered seam end of a swag and insert it between the the front and back layers, between the scrunched strap and the pin. Stitch into place. Note - I inserted my swag with the seam facing up, because I think it adds interesting detail. If you don't want the seam to show, just flip it over.

Repeat with the other swag.

Stitch the swags into place 1/4" from the top edge.

Turn the front bodice so that the right sides are facing outward,

Move the swags out of the way for now. Insert the scrunched straps into the back bodice piece as described on page 18. Stitch the straps into place, but leave the center open as you did for the front piece. Fold and pin through all layers at the center.

Gather and insert the other ends of the swags. The edges with the seams should be right next to each other in the center. Make sure the straps look like mirror images of each other at this point with no extra twists or turns.

Stitch the swags into place 1/4" from the top edge.

Assemble the bodice as described in the eBook. Notice how the swags stand on their own? That little twist makes a big difference!

Make the hemmed skirt as described as on page 45 and set it aside.

Fold the peplum pieces widthwise into 4ths and press to make creases.

Fold the front and back pieces lengthwise with the right side facing in. Using a water soluble marker, make dots for the gathering points. Put dots on all of the creases, and right next to the side edges on the front pieces only. You can place all of the dots at the same height, or stagger them like I did. For the doll skirt, I made the front center marking 1" from the folded edge, and made the others progressively lower. For a "big girl" skirt, I would start at 2".

Place the front and back pieces together, right sides facing. Make sure the dotted ends are together. Stitch 1/4" from the short side edges. This will make a tube of fabric.

Fold the tube in half lengthwise, wrong sides together. Align the raw edges.

We are also going to work a little twist into the peplum so it is nice and full like the swags. At the top edges, shift the fabric so that the creases are 1/4" to 1/2" apart. Pin the layers together just between the creases.

Shift in the same direction at every crease and seam. Notice some poof forming?

Run two rows of basting stitches at the top edge.

Now is a good time to go ahead and gather from the points to the folded edge. Using a hand needle and thread, make big stitches through both layers, which should be slightly shifted at that position. Use the thread to draw the fold up to the point. Secure the gather with several knots at the end of the thread.

Make the gathers at the other dots.

Pull the bobbin threads to gather the peplum and align the raw edges of the peplum with the bottom edges of the bodice. Arrange the gathering so that the seams and midpoints are in line.

Zig-zag stitch over the edges to "set" the gathers in place. Remove the pins and gathering threads.

Add the skirt as described on page 51.

Optional - add embellishments to the gathering points on the peplum, and between the swags at the top of the bodice. I made simple silk ribbon roses as described in this tutorial, but you could use pre-made ribbon roses, bows, or even artificial flowers.

Now Beauty is all set for an evening with the Beast!

Doesn't Buddy look like he has a faraway romantic look on his face? He was actually eying my burrito over on the coffee table!