A House of Thumbprint Balloons, Plus Cake

DIY-Up-Balloon-House-Thumbprint-Guest-Poster

« The Find: A roundup of tasty delights, brought to you by the wonderous makers and dreamers of the interwebs, who always seem to have much better ideas than you me.  Prepare to be dazzled forthwith. Plus, there’s cake. »

Up there at the tippy-top of this post, the cutest, most delightful party idea ever: a thumbprint guest poster featuring a house that looks just like the house from the movie Up, with thumbprints as the balloons, from Bleu de Toi. Seriously, I am swooning from the cuteness of this. I might need to have a party RIGHT NOW just so I can do this. I think it would be perfect for kids’ parties and also for a casual wedding when the bride and groom have a sense of humor and are not taking the whole thing overly seriously (yes, you know who you are). There aren’t too many ideas you can say that about: Works for a 5 year old’s birthday or a wedding spectacular. Sign of genius, if you ask me.

Keep going, there’s even more deliciousness ahead:

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1. Design Milk has a gallery of super-stylish creative business cards. There’s some stunning graphic design on display here, and your old business cards will curl with shame.

If that’s not enough, try 20 more creative business card designs at Bored Panda.  I’m telling you, these cards will blow you away. If you’re in need of inspiration for your own logo or business card, this will spark you to think so far outside the box, your box is now a hexagon. (p.s. If you are a lawyer, or an accountant, or in some other slightly more buttoned-up dignified career, just save yourself the despair and don’t even look. No need for a soul-crushing career reassessment. What good would that do? And really, even a business card that doubles as a functional drum isn’t worth it. Is it?

Drum Business Card

Um, did I mention it comes with drumstick pencils? No, probably should have kept that to myself.)


2. Fabric lust! Sew Mama Sew is having a sale on preorders of some gorgeous new fabric coming in soon, including Alegria by Geninne D. Zlatkis, Cocoon by Valori Wells, Gypsy Caravan by Amy Butler, and Flea Market Fancy by Denyse Schmidt. There are some seriously droolworthy designs here. In fact, some designs are already sold out, and they aren’t even in stock yet! I get it, though. I know I’m ready to refresh my stash for spring and summer. But when you click over there to blow your budget, save some fabric for me, ok?

One-Strap-Kids-Backpack-Tutorial | Sew Mama SewOh, and while you’re there at SMS, check out the new tutorials they’ve posted as part of their Fat Quarter Project. Best of all, these are free, because I know you emptied your bank account on the fabric, right…or is that just me? Anyway, first on my list is this one-strap bag. It’s perfect for The Boy, who, as I’ve mentioned, is always begging me to sew him something.

 

 

paven-patterngreen-dust-scratch-pattern-download

3. Want to freshen up your blog, or redecorate your computer for spring? These delicate, lovely backgrounds from Subtle Patterns are free to download. Click through the extensive gallery to find just the right fit, or, even better, you can download all the available pattern files with just one click. If you decide to make use of this amazing design resource, though, do consider clicking the donation button to throw a few bucks to the generous designers.

Lemon-Raspberry-Coffeecake-BHG.com4. I did promise there’d be cake, and I’d never lie to you. I need to make this raspberry-lemon coffeecake immediately. It is like a billboard for spring, and it sounds heavenly. Oh! Did I mention it has a CHEESECAKE FILLING? Because, it does. It has a cheesecake filling. (Pardon me for getting excited, but, you know, sometimes it cannot be helped, and clearly, what with the raspberries and lemon and cheesecake filling, this is one of those times.)

I tell you, I’m holding on to spring with both hands. It always goes too fast, and I am NOT ready for summer, not one bit. I am going to stay smack-dab in the middle of spring for as long as I possibly can. I find denial helps a lot, and I have no problem with that at all.*

5. In search of thank you cards for The Boy after his recent birthday, I found these charming Modern Angle birthday and thank you cards, generously offered for free by Love vs. Design. I especially love that they are fairly gender-neutral, and so will work equally well for boys or girls. Get yourself some if you are similarly in need. (They have lots of charming not-so-free designs for invitations and such also, so check those out as well.)

Ok, off to make that coffeecake now. Hopefully it’s not one of these days. Fingers crossed!

*Click here to download the coffeecake recipe.

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Arrowheart Love Notes Pillow

Arrowheart Hand-Embroidered Love Notes Pillow | Embroidery Download Free

My son always wants me to sew him something. As anyone who sews for kids knows,  just like trying to buy cool boys’ clothes in a store, it is often an exercise in frustration. The selection in stores is usually downright sad compared with the real estate given over to all the delightful styles for girls. When it comes to sewing patterns, the choice isn’t much better, and to top it off, it’s just plain hard to sew the kinds of clothes they want to wear once they’re past the baby/toddler stage. So it’s often a challenge to find projects to make for The Boy (who is very, very big now, he’d be the first to tell you), because I’m sure not sewing him jeans! That is way out of my comfort zone. I fare much better with non-clothing items. In that spirit, I recently made him this Arrowheart hand-embroidered pillow. It has a wee pocket on the back to tuck in sweet little messages and other goodies:

Pocket detail on Embroidered Arrowheart Love Notes Pillow

Because, fortunately, although he is very, very big, The Boy is not too old to still want love notes from his mommy.

(I don’t know how R2D2 got in there. He’s wily, that one.)

The best part about this pillow is that it started life as a very well made linen shirt, which had become a bit stained and just generally wasn’t my style. It sat in my closet for years, until a recent purge unearthed it. It made its way to my to-be-repurposed sewing basket, and with a little creative cutting, it’s got new life. I think it’s more beautiful than ever. DIY Embroidered Arrowheart Love Notes Pillow | Upcyclyed Deconstructed Linen Shirt

If you feel like doing a little upcycling yourself, or you’ve got some other fabric that’s in dire need of decoration, download my free embroidery template and get to it.

I find that I’m ruthless these days about culling my closet. Anything made of quality fabric is in jeopardy of becoming source material. I’d much rather put that stuff to good use in a sewing project than let it languish in “what if” land in my closet. As in, “What if someday I do want to wear it?” Because more often than not, someday never comes.

How about you? Have to take the scissors to your closet yet? Once you start, it’s hard to stop!

Arrowheart Embroidery Design Download

Dragon Tails and Hot Air Balloons

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Check out these charms from around the Web. With a couple of DIY kids’ projects and tutorials, a thoroughly delightful Etsy shop, and even some cupcakes, there are enough distractions here to keep me going till summer. But at least I’ll have dessert!

Home Decor by LittleGrayFox on Etsy. I’m in love with these ornaments, and everything else in this charming store.

These are so darling, they make me wish I had a girl to make them for. Don’t think The Boy would really appreciate them, but I think they are so clever and so cute.

Ah, but these dragon tails are much more up The Boy’s alley! I can’t wait to make a whole slew of these. I anticipate some serious dragon fun this summer.

This is just a ridiculous amount of deliciousness in one little package. I must try them immediately. A reward after tackling all these kids’ projects?

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I need to start with the cupcakes. You know, just to build up my strength for all that sewing.

I’m off to track down some Oreos…

Zakka Style Everywhere

Patchwork-Embroidery-Zakka-Bag

It’s a small world after all, isn’t it? If the song says so, it must be true. I’m not the only one with zakka on the brain these days. I was drooling over all the new books over at the Stash Books blog, and I noticed that Rashida Coleman-Hale’s new book, Zakka Style, looks especially yummy. I’m dying to get my hands on it. I have her last book, I ♥ Patchwork, and it’s got so many gorgeous projects to try, my sewing wish list runneth over.

Now, to celebrate her new book, she’s partnered with a slew of bloggers to launch the Zakka Style Sew-Along and blog hop. It looks like they’ve got some fun projects lined up. The first one, a cute little zigzag tote, is detailed at Sew Fantastic. The Sew-Along started last week, but there’s still plenty time to jump in. A new project is up today at During Quiet Time. Check out LRstitched for the rest of the details.

Happy Sewing!

Get Some Zakka Style | Come On, You Know You Want To

Zakka Patchwork Linen Bag with Strap

Just finished a new bag, and I’m so in love with it. It’s a Zakka-style linen patchwork shoulder bag with hand-embroidered detailing on the flap, inspired by a Zakka-style patchwork makeup pouch by Rashida Coleman-Hale. (My small zippered pouch somehow grew up to be a shoulder bag with rainbow embroidery on the flap, a magnetic snap closure, and a leather strap I’d sewed for another bag. Not sure how that happened.)

Have you visited her blog, I Heart Linen? It’s amazing. If you’ve never seen her work, check it out for some gorgeous, simple projects that usually, as you might have guessed, feature linen. If you’re not familiar with Zakka, it’s a Japanese style focused on beautiful, useful, simple handmade items created with natural materials. It’s thoroughly charming and I’m a bit obsessed. Zakka items somehow manage to be rustic and sophisticated all at the same time. I Heart Linen has some great examples of this style of sewing. Also, I’m completely in love with her new fabric line. It’s high up on my wish list.

Have you sewn with linen? Honestly, once I started, I found it hard to stop. I raided my closet for old linen shirts and dresses that I never wore anymore. Now every time I go into my closet, I’m likely to come out with something to deconstruct for another project. That linen seems wasted on rarely worn shirts, when it could become a bunch of adorable new Zakka coin purses!

So, what do you think of Zakka style?

Tutorial: Hand-Sewn Reverse Applique Needlebook

DIY Reverse Applique Felt Needlebook Tutorial

DIY Reverse Applique Felt Needlebook Tutorial

Needlebook Tutorial Open Pocket View

As I’ve mentioned before, when I first began sewing, I used my friend’s grandmother’s tank of a Singer. I was so clueless then, I didn’t know how great that old workhorse was. I just wanted to learn to sew, and I used the machine I had available. At the same time, I started to dip my needle into hand-sewing and embroidery.  A book on embroidery caught my eye on Amazon, and I was off to the races. The thing is, it’s really, really hard to describe stitches in words. It is, as they say, like dancing about architecture. I was completely befuddled by the drawings and long explanations of what I was assured were simple stitches that any  beginner could easily master. Sigh. Me? Not so much. The only way I figured any of it out was to get myself some fabric and thread and needles and go to it. (It probably doesn’t help that I’m a lefty. But honestly, the few times I’ve come across embroidery instructions for lefties, I was even more confused!)

So, I found myself in need of this “needlebook” I kept hearing about. I didn’t have a clue what a needlebook was supposed to look like. All I knew was that all the sewing books and blogs seemed to think I had one, or should at any rate, and once I began my tentative attempts at embroidery I could see that I really did need a place to stash those needles and pins so that they didn’t end up underfoot or stuck in the couch cushions (yes, that was a painful lesson learned). So, despite my near-total ignorance on the matter, I set about designing one for myself with some scraps of fabric leftover from the first bag I ever made. My sewing has come a long way since then, but that slapdash, very DIY-looking (and not in a good way) needlebook has done its duty and it has a special place in my sewing bag as a symbol of my tendency—sometimes admirable, sometimes foolish—to dive headlong into a challenge, always presuming I can figure it out.

But lately I’ve wanted something a bit more stylish, and more functional as well. Inspired recently by the Alabama Chanin techniques of hand-sewing and reverse applique, I created this felt needlebook with reverse applique. It turned out really well, and so I thought I’d share it. I made two with different appliques for the cover: a wonky cross and a flower petal design. You can download one of my designs or draw your own. I’ve included the design downloads in the tutorial.

I hope you enjoy it! It’s a quick, fun project with a useful result, and a good excuse to try out reverse applique if you’ve never done it.

Get the complete tutorial:
 Reverse Applique Needlebook Tutorial

Don’t Fear the Needle

Hand-Sewn Blue Felt Ball

The thought of hand-sewing used to terrify me. When I first started sewing, I borrowed my friend’s grandmother’s ancient Singer. I didn’t know the first thing about machine sewing—or sewing, period. I didn’t even know how to thread it, so I just used the thread that was already in the machine, which fortunately was a nice neutral brown that pretty much worked with everything. Eventually, though, the thread broke, and I was faced with the daunting task of tackling the Singer’s baffling series of tension knobs and hooks and loops. I might as well have been trying to build the space shuttle from scratch for all I knew about the process. Of course, I didn’t have a manual either. So, I turned to the handy-dandy Internet and voila, seconds later I had a PDF of the manual in front of me. I set to work, being in general rather confident in my ability to accomplish pretty much anything as long as I have directions. Sure enough, shortly thereafter I once again had a functional, threaded sewing machine. No sweat. (A few months later, I bought myself a very nice Brother, and I was off to the races. I thread that thing like nobody’s business! Ah, how far I’ve come…)

So why, then, was I so scared to pick up a sharps needle and throw down some stitches with the hands God gave me? Perhaps it was a generational preference for technology, my instinctive presumption that I could never do as good a job as a machine. Also, I did not grow up with a tradition of sewing. I didn’t have a mom who patiently sat with me and passed along all her sewing wisdom, and the wisdom passed down to her from her mother, and so on. I hear these stories so often from sewers and quilters, and I’m always envious. Regardless, I didn’t have that, and I picked up sewing all on my own. (Apparently my paternal grandmother was a master seamstress, though, as was one of her daughters. Unfortunately, my grandmother died before I was old enough to learn to sew, and my aunt was well into a sad case of dementia by the time sewing caught my fancy.)

The first things I sewed were bags, and I dreaded the thought of having to hand-sew the linings closed. I’d read through the directions on a project, and every time I’d come to the point where I was told to turn the bag right side out and blind stitch or slipstitch the opening, I’d think, Well, surely there’s some way to get around this, right? I can’t really have to hand-sew it! Oh, the horror.  I got over it, and actually became a teensy bit proficient at it. I distinctly remember the first time I finished a bag and I truly couldn’t see where I’d stitched it closed. I was so excited I grabbed my clueless husband and shoved the bag at him. “Look!” I squealed. “Can you see where I stitched the opening closed? You can’t, can you?  Yeah me!” He gamely agreed that he couldn’t find the stitches and professed his amazement at my growing skill level. (He’s a sweetie like that. I’m sure he didn’t  have the first clue what he was supposed to be looking for, but after many years of marriage, he is exceedingly well trained in the art of when to blindly and generously praise.)

That was more than a year ago. In recent months, to my surprise and delight, I’ve learned to not just tolerate hand-sewing. I’ve actually grown to love it. It’s a graceful counterpoint, a delicate and subtle contrast to the blunt instrument of machine sewing. It gives me a welcome feeling of control, as opposed to machine sewing, where often I feel that I’m grasping for the reins and my machine is about to bolt for the hills. I’m just holding on for dear life half the time, praying for everything to go as planned.

The rhythms of hand-sewing have become a part of my daily life. And did I mention the convenience? The portability factor is huge! I love being able to sit on the couch with a project in hand, after getting the kiddo to bed, and watch TV with my husband (in the 5 minutes we have alone every day before we pass out from exhaustion). I have taken projects to 3rd grade basketball games, doctors’ waiting rooms, and the school parking lot at pickup time. I’ve even sewed while stuck in a traffic jam!

A year ago I would have been shocked that my current favorite project, the one I’m always itching to pick up when I have a random 30 seconds of downtime, is this:

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