Spring Doodle Jar

Image This winter I purchased some porcelain pens for my kids so they could make tea cups for their Grandad – an Irishman who could never have too many.  Of course, if they can work on porcelain, then they can work on glass too. Glass! There is so much of it in my recycling bin that is just perfect for fancying up, so that is what I did. Head on over to My Daily Bubble where I posted a tutorial- though really, if you doodle at all, then you won’t really need it. But go over anyway – it’s just a click away, click away, click away, yea. And there is this possibility too: Image

Giving the gift of MAKING

We all know what great gifts we get from our creative endeavors. It comes as no surprise that research finds that making things – using your hands – either for practical or artistic reasons pretty much makes you happier and more satisfied in general. Truth! I sat down here because I wanted to say that and then realized  I should back up what I was saying so I googled “does making things make you happier” and the very first thing that came up was written by one of my most dearest friends – I love that! Check out Catherine Newman’s piece called Want to be Happier? Try Making Your Life a Little Harder.

We want our people to be happy too, so I wanted to remind everyone who knows someone who talks about wanting to learn to sew to BUY OUR BOOK! Improv Sewing, as you know because you are on this blog, is great for beginners and seasoned sewists in need of a few new ideas.  It’s also pretty cheap on Amazon right now, so there is that.

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But also, Debra and I have workshops on Creativebug that are great for people who would rather be shown than read about how to make something. Under Improv Sewing, we have a workshop on tracing a t-shirt and making a wardrobe, drawing with thread, making girl’s bloomers, and a very sweet upcycled girls dress called Morse Code Dress (you’ll see why). Under Nicole Blum, you’ll find a stitched rope basket, an appliqued umbrella, cool shrinky dink jewelry, and some yarn birds. So there’s something for the grown-ups and the kids in your life. Creativebug workshops are available if you subscribe by the month, or longer, or many of the workshops can be purchased a la carte. BUT WAIT!!! We are  giving away 2 free 3-month subscriptions- one for the winner and one for the friend of a winner (so you get 2 if you win) All you need to do is tell us if you own our book and whether or not you are thinking of getting it as a gift for someone! You can be honest. We are just curious. We will be asking for the same thing over on Facebook.com/improvsewing, so leave your comment on either or both places and we will use a random number generator to choose a winner by December 28th. Better late than never.

Have the most joyful celebrations folks! Let friends know about this giveaway too.

xo, Nicole and Debra

Update: We have a winner! Sorry I forgot to do this on the 28th, but I was busy not working, and that is rare. The odds were great for all of you since only 3 comments were left (maybe we should post more often?!) but Annette got picked by the random number generator. I cannot figure out how to show you the box with the pick, so you’ll have to trust me. I don’t know any of you but I wanted you all to win this. I’ll send you an email, Annette.

 

 

fabric scrap advent calendar

Things at home are a little tricky these days.  My son is now a high-school freshman, for one thing. It’s a whole new world of teenagerdom for us–a new phase to navigate. And then there’s a spouse who is working out of town almost all the time. And then there’s the early sunsets and the cold. Evenings can be a bit quiet, dark, and dull. To counteract all this and add a bit of cheer, I decided to dig into my scrap pile this year and do a little improv-sewing advent calendar.

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(Sorry about the unbeautiful phone pics — the aforementioned teen has confiscated my good camera for a project of his own!)  I just cut the scraps into rectangles, folded them in half (or stacked a couple, if the scrap was especially narrow and small), and sewed up the seams to make little pouches. I turned the cotton pouches inside out to for a (slightly) more finished look. If the scrap was jersey or felt, which doesn’t ravel, I left the seams raw and exposed (you can see it on the reddish/orange pouch below).

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Filled ‘em with candy or other little goodies like bubble bath shapes (below), tied ‘em closed with ribbon or fabric strips, added a little label and clipped them to the branch in our kitchen that I use for all kinds of seasonal hanging doodads.

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This scrappy little project has accomplished its mission. Evenings are brighter. My teen and I are bonding over nightly doses of candy and treats. Happiness has been increased with few quick stitches. Here’s hoping your holidays are bright and happy too!

A new pillow

I don’t seem to have any theme to the pillow situation on my sofa, but that’s okay. Maybe it’s a little like paintings on the wall – all are unique and you really wouldn’t want them too similar or your house would end up looking like a doctor’s office.  It is satisfying for me to make something new and pillows are essential for a cozy space, so they are a good go-to when I want a small and quick project.

Unless I am deep into a book or playing a game, it is really hard for me to just sit around in the evening . I want to hang out with my family, even if there is homework, lego and reading going on simultaneously , so I find any sort of handwork perfect. My aim is to have the old fashioned darning basket equivalent sitting there with a variety of possibilities, but lately I’ve just needed to be prepared for the night so I don’t need to get off my lazy butt and head across the yard to my studio to get something  ( not wanting to sit around and being too lazy to go out into the night to get some supplies are quite different) . I also know I might not actually come back in for a while once I see the piles of potential up there, so it is better for everyone if I have it inside already. This is a long winded way to share this:

The linen case is an envelope style and is 1/2″ smaller  than the pillow insert to ensure a nice snug and tidy fit. I drew the design onto the pillowcase with tailor’s chalk and a ruler. It is a simple (and trendy, I know) geometric design and any dimensions will do.

I used embroidery thread to follow the chalk lines and backstitched the entire design for a nice graphic look

I used embroidery thread to follow the chalk lines and backstitched the entire design for a nice graphic look

At the end of a length of embroidery thread, and at the last stitch, I ended on the wrong side and tied off with a knot right at the fabric to secure the stitches. It is so simple.

I love it. I still might add a few more arrows or lines if I get the urge and no other project waits in the wings. But then again, I just noticed a rip in that red chair and maybe I will darn it while I sit there  some night.

Also, if you need a quick project and have someone in your life that is bow obsessed, head here to see a tutorial I created on that very thing. They look like this and can be used a bunch of different ways – in the hair, on a necklace, as a pin on bowtie, on a gift, etc.

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The Paper Dress

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My daughter goes to this amazing art camp. It is no-joke amazing  - very fun and wildly creative. I am so glad she is able to go there. Last year her focus group performed on stage with words found -in old books, around old Deerfield, in overheard conversations – while enormous painting were being created simultaneously (they even made the scaffolding to get them to those great heights). It was weird and beautiful and very entertaining.

Like most camps, they have a “funky day” where the kids dress outrageously and Ava has been planning her outfit since the coldest winter months. Her plan: a dress made entirely out of paper. She designed and I sewed – the night before it was to be worn, of course, despite the months of knowing the plan. Well, we were both very pleased with the results!

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I would walk you through all of the steps, but honestly, it was really made by folding and sewing those folds to create a form fitting shape., so let me give you just the basics.

I started by making a pleated skirt. To do this, I folded kraft paper back and forth into a fan – enough so I could sew two pieces together to make a skirt that was the right measurement for Ava’s high waist. Before sewing the side seams, however, I stitched along the upper edge of the pleats to secure them permanently. The seams were on the outside of the skirt, so to make them look good, I cut the edge with pinking shears and pressed them open with an iron.

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I cut the bodice from a double layer of paper – better safe than sorry when a 14 year old is concerned. Ava designed the dress with a sweetheart neckline, so to make this, we folded the paper in half to cut a symmetrical line. The paper was long enough to wrap around her body (no side seams for this) and give me lots to work with for the “fold fitting”.

We made 2 darts by folding.

We then made 2 more by cutting, overlapping, and then sewing (see following images).

Okay, we were just too involved in the making to stop and take pictures after this point. Have a look at the pictures and you should be able to tell how we sewed things down. She wanted it fitted, so we left the back open (even past the waistline a bit so she could pull over her head) and attached self-adhesive velcro dots as a closure.

Some parts were impossible to get under my little sewing machine, so I hand stitched with embroidery floss, which worked great.

Ava folded strips of paper and sewed them up with a zig zag stitch. They were sewn on in the front and then I used brads to secure them in the back – that way they could be unstrapped when the dress went on and off.

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This is my favorite part – the bodice.

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Paper is, in some ways, forgiving stuff.  If you want it to fit differently, just fold, press and sew. Wait, that really isn’t any different from sewing any garment. I guess if you can work symmetrically, then anything goes – unless, of course, you are into asymmetry.

The punch line:

She was feeling super exhausted and it was pouring on Funky day, and the girl DID NOT GO TO CAMP! Actually, I don’t really care. I was glad she was home.

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