Canvas menagerie

My sweet little boy turns two in less than a month. It’s so cliche to say it, but time has flown by. I had an animal-themed vision for his room, complete with several DIY projects, some that were finished before he was born and some that still exist only in my head (future blog fodder, I suppose). One successful project was art for the walls, easy enough for my then 2.5 year old daughter to help with.

The supplies were simple: 10″x10″ canvases from Michael’s or JoAnn Fabrics, fabric scraps in various colors, and Mod Podge, plus a glue stick and a sponge brush. I searched Google Images for the animals I envisioned (turtle, whale and elephant) plus “silhouette.”

Elephant clips

Once I found shapes I liked, I printed them with reduced opacity to avoid killing my black ink cartridge. Then I used the glue stick to glue the papers to the back of my fabrics and cut around the outlines (not with my nice fabric scissors!). Here’s a caveat: when I did Noah’s art, I had a cheap Roseart glue stick. After I cut out the whale, I realized I should really load the glue on because when it stuck better, it was easier to cut a smooth line. Somehow, even with a lot of glue, the paper still peeled off the fabric easily. I recently made another set of canvases for Greta, but the only glue stick I could find was Elmer’s. I again applied the glue liberally, but this time when I went to peel off the paper, it seemed to pull too much on my fabric, distorting the shape. Eventually I learned to leave the paper on, which worked fine with the next step…assembly!

Here’s where Greta came in. We spread newspaper out on the table and poured Mod Podge out on a paper plate, which we each painted on the middle our canvas. I placed an animal on the prepared surface, eyeballing it to make it centered. I had sized all three pictures to about 7″ wide, but since they were different heights a small distance off center wouldn’t be too noticeable. Then we went to town painting over the whole surface with more Mod Podge. After letting them dry overnight, we had art!


There are a million different looks you could make with this. I love how they turned out, and Greta loved helping make something for her little brother. Every once in awhile she would ask me to make some for her, so for Easter this year, I left a surprise by her basket:

99wNOjgaXeooBMgC.jpgMy apologies for the poor editing of the pictures on my phone. We have yet to hang these, and I’m thinking I need to make a fourth so they can hang in a 2×2 grid instead of a line. I think a bird would round the group out nicely. The ladybug body was where I really saw distortion from peeling the paper off, so I’m not super happy with that one. The fish, with the paper left on, turned out awesome; the pieces fit together better than I expected.



Now if only I can make Noah’s cornice boxes before he outgrows the animal theme…

Swoon Laney Hobo Bag

About 3 years ago, I decided to look for a real leather purse instead of sticking with the $14.99 specials found at Kohl’s. I ended up with a black Tignanello bag, and it has served me well, but I thought for spring it would be nice to have something lighter and more fun. Enter Swoon Patterns and the free Laney hobo bag pattern. I had actually searched quite a bit trying to find the bag I was envisioning. I saw this bag early in my search and liked the hobo shape, but I had an idea in my head that didn’t exactly match the options I found. After coming full circle through the internet (exaggeration? nah.), I decided to take the Laney pattern as a starting point and modify it.

And then I stopped and thought maybe I should make one bag as written before I go off on a tangent like my wallet. I went back and forth a couple times, ultimately deciding to liberate fabric from my stash for my first go at bag making with a Swoon pattern. One yellow pillowcase found on clearance at Target, a bird print from Valori Wells’ Wrenly collection bought a few years ago on impulse, and a blue/white gingham print later, I have a new purse:


Surprisingly, I started this on Sunday and finished it (late) Monday night – quite possibly the least time I’ve allowed a project to languish in between sewing sessions. It came together so nicely, I’m tempted to make another. I debated putting the yellow on the inside and had to text my design consultant (Alana, I’ve given you a title) for her opinion. I had started assembling the panels when I laid a partial outside piece over a finished lining side.

Examining my options
Examining my options

Uh-oh. My default setting is to pick blue for everything, so seeing this I thought I made the wrong choice in keeping the gingham to the lining. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the yellow, just that the gingham was so cute. I pressed on as I had started though and I’m so glad. One of my favorite things is the blue lining peaking out around the yellow.G6SoMB119fNPNHCS.jpg

Of course, I couldn’t leave the pattern alone completely. I added my tag on the side seam shown above, in addition to a few modifications inside. The pattern calls for a tie closure, but I didn’t think it would suit me. Instead, I added a magnetic snap (too close to the edge, making it hard to top stitch). I also put in two basic slip pockets and a swivel hook for my keys.

I see something familiar in there

I’m so happy with how this turned out. Also, the free pattern totally got me hooked; I will be much more likely to spring for a paid Swoon pattern in the future knowing how easy this was to follow. Overall, a great first experience with bag making. Now I think I might need to take some of the remaining bird print to make a small pouch to enhance the interior organization…aka to make it so I can carry more lip gloss/pens/hair things without them taking over my bag.



Crafty Construction

I took a break from sewing/crocheting/etc. last weekend to work on an unusual-for-me but related project: a custom cutting table! I’m slowly planning my sewing space in our evolving basement and I can’t wait to have some flat surfaces to stash all my stuff. My dining table (and husband) will thank me when it’s all done 🙂

I took most of my direction from Ashley at Make It & Love It. I wanted to add a little different detail, so instead of buying the legs available at Ikea, I found this option at Home Depot:


Imagine those on this (use your imagination with the scale!):

KALLAX Shelving unit IKEA Choose whether you want to hang it on the wall or stand it on the floor.

My sister, whose eye I trust more than my own when it comes to artsy things (hi, Alana!), suffered through a trip to the HD with me pick out paint. I was envisioning a fun color in a darker range so that I could play around with pops of other colors in the space without it feeling too crazy. She convinced me to try something a little more interesting. Two quarts of high gloss, two sample pots, and one can of Polycrylic later, here’s (roughly) what we came up with:

Table layout

I’ll update with the actual color names when the table is finished. Since so little is needed for the legs I opted for a sample pot of the darker shade, and a purple to use as an accent, which only comes in flat. Since I want it to feel all shiny and new, I’ll finish any items in those colors with a clear gloss spray. I still need to get a door to use as the top, which will also be painted white.

This would be finished sooner, but I got distracted from my distraction and sewed my first purse over the last couple days! I love it and will for sure have to post about it soon. Hopefully not too long after that I’ll have the completed table to share.

(I think I need a killer sign-off phrase, as I never know how to end my posts. Think Robin Scherbatsky would mind if I borrowed hers? “May the road ahead be lit with dreams and tomorrows. Which are lit with dreams, also.” Open to suggestions!)

Rebinding a quilt

After my daughter Greta was born, I was really dreading going back to work. Subsequently, I didn’t start looking at daycares until I was already on maternity leave. I only ended up touring two centers and totally lucked out that the one closest to our home had an opening. They are all-around fabulous and I can’t imagine having anybody else care for my kids over the last 4+ years. One of the silly things I was attracted to when reviewing their website was that all children enrolled receive a quilt made by the ladies of the adjacent church. It just seemed like such a sweet, personal gesture. I’m not sure how my daughter’s blanket was chosen; it’s very bright and probably not what I would have picked, but she adores it.


“School blankie” has gotten a lot of love since then, and it shows. A couple of times, I’ve fixed a spot in the middle where the thread broke, exposing the batting underneath. Wonder Under kept it together for a short time, but I finally had to take it to the sewing machine and pass a zigzag stitch over the area a few times. Eventually the binding also began to give out. It frayed along the edge, and came free in a few sections where the thread broke.

Solution? Mommy/daughter date to the fabric store! With some gentle direction, Greta chose a colorful floral print that picked up several colors from her quilt. With my recently acquired bias tape maker, I turned it into far too many feet of 1/2″ double fold bias tape. Did it really need to be cut on the bias to bind a straight-edge quilt? Well no, but I was practicing. Maybe the leftovers will be used for a project more in need of the stretch.

I’m not a quilter, so I didn’t fix it the “right” way. I used Wonder Clips to hold the binding in place and then just top stitched around the whole thing. Unfortunately, this meant I missed the edge on the underside several times and had to go over a few places again.


For next time:

  • Create less bias tape – I didn’t want to run short, so I asked for too much at the cutting counter and then agreed to buy the remnant at the end of the bolt.
  • Try a zigzag stitch so there’s less of a chance of missing the bottom edge – if I’m doing it “wrong” might as well go all the way!
  • If more holes form in the middle, I’m going to try patching with the leftover floral fabric.

Noah, my not quite 2 year old, loves his quilt too. When we picked it out, the teacher offered to write his name on it with Sharpie. I declined, took it home, and appliqued his name on the back with navy rib knit fabric. Alas, I have no photos at the moment, so that’s another post for another day. 🙂

A wallet completed


It’s done! For a few weeks now…let’s blame February and cold weather for making me fall asleep on the couch nightly instead of recording my relative successes here. This definitely lived up to my expectation of it being a learning experience; since I was having a hard time getting myself going, I decided to just start cutting fabric instead of precisely measuring. That part actually worked out ok, but if I were to make another I would take the time to do it the “right” way.

The wallet features a magnetic snap for securing the flap:

I think it's off-centeredness adds character.
I think its off-centeredness adds character.

And of course, the many card slots, which share a wall with the zippered pouch:

As much as I love the slots, the tag has to be my favorite part (thanks, husband!).

Sewing the zipper went alright, though it doesn’t move as smoothly as I’d like. I’m appreciating the roominess of the pouch; it’s a lot easier to find my change mixed in with bills than it was in the dollar-sized section of my old wallet.

Last, I’ve got an open pocket for my checkbook, coupons, and, if I’m using it as a clutch, my keys and phone:

A nice, wide section for miscellany.
A nice, wide section for miscellany.

There is a pocket in the flap, but it lost a lot of functionality when I rounded the corners. This was also my first attempt at bias tape binding. It was a bit tricky where the zippered pocket meets the main piece of the wallet; I ended up binding the edges of the pocket first and trapping the loose end under the binding as I went along the sides.

I shoved (technical term) additional interfacing into the wallet a couple times before it was closed up because I kept feeling that it needed more structure. Overall, in the future I’ll beef up the interfacing on the exterior and between the card slots. I found this post comparing different weights and examples of how to use them – I’ll definitely be referring to it on my next project!

Project tally:

  • 2 fat quarters from my stash
  • Most of 1 crib sheet, added to my pile after it ripped all the way up one corner
  • 1 7″ nylon zipper
  • 1 sewing machine needle that broke when I sewed over the metal stop of the zipper
  • Various pieces of interfacing

Thoughts for next time:

  • Rework the card slots so the openings face up – I tend to leave my wallet in my purse and just slide my cards in and out, so I’d like to make that easier. Maybe accordion sides so if I do just throw the cards back, they’ll be more secure.
  • Along those lines, make the flap smaller. Since I’ve already learned I’m not using the pocket in the flap, I can decrease it to only come an inch or two over to the front so there isn’t so much extra flopping around in my purse when I fail to snap it shut.
  • Maybe add a clip for keys and/or a wrist strap.
  • And, as mentioned above:
    • Measure more precisely
    • Be liberal with interfacing

That’s it! I’ve been getting back in the swing of sewing (and crocheting…and my mom and sister talked me into learning to knit…) so hopefully more to come soon!