Category Archives: In Stitches Sew Along

Strawberry Shortcake, Huckleberry Finn!

in stitches august, shortbread theme

Dear Finny,
Hey doll! Step away from that amazing garden of yours for a moment and those pies, gnocchi and all other fabulous things you’ve been creating and guess what? I finished up my In Stitches August project. I know! Can you believe it? Early bird gets the worm/assignment off her back. And the reason that seems a bit snippy is because mother of all things holy — I don’t like making bias binding. Or those corners. I can’t tell you how difficult these things were for me to figure out on my own. And I’ve made a couple quilts and done binding before! But I have a feeling I cut the fabric the wrong direction — in fact making it not bias binding — and the corners just weren’t having it yesterday.

obviously not the quilter in the family

So, my project is far from perfect but it is completed and I love the summery fabrics. To complete the assigned theme of using the potholder to showcase some fun summer activity, I fell back to one of my favorite activities any time of the year: baking! With potholders! Who knew?

crumbles of shortbread

Did you have Strawberry Shortcake dolls when you were growing up? I think part of the reason I loved them was that they smelled so good. And they were the perfect size to fit on My Little Ponies, versus those long legged freak Barbies that would topple over after the first “giddyup.” Anyway, Strawberry Shortcake and her sweet-smelling friends were some of my favorite dolls. She inspired my fabric selection and my choice of baking shortbread.

cinnamon vanilla shortbread, sv

For the first batch, I used this recipe. For the second batch, I spiced things up by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Those two flavors work well with shortbread and wowza, did these come out nicely. I wrapped them up with a few Martha Stewart baking goodies and delivered them yesterday to a handful of happy recipients — wearing my potholder the whole time, naturally.

packaged and ready to go

There you have it! Now, off to pack. And swim. Hope you are having a wonderful week!


P.S. If you are interested in the Sweet Sedona Bundt Cake recipe from earlier this week it is super simple!

One standard yellow cake mix
Two boxes of butterscotch pudding mix (I like the sugar free)
Two eggs
1 stick of softened unsalted butter (feel free to cut that in half and substitute apple sauce for an even better/healthier dessert)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350
Grease your bundt pan (I like to use the wrapper from the butter and a dash of Pam.
In a large bowl combine all your ingredients, minus the chocolate chips. Stir until it is creamy and you’ve added a fair amount of air to the batter. Transfer to bundt pan and shake the pan so the cake distributes evenly.
Cook for 20-30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so to see if it is cooking evenly. (You can tell I need a new oven.)
Let it cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a pretty plate. Dust with additional cinnamon and cardamom to taste and add your chocolate chips. Best served warm with a steaming cup of coffee. If you can eat this on a patio in Sedona, where the colors of the cake will match the incredible beauty of the red rocks, even better!

I Hear Cable is Fun Too

caddy, ready for a crib

Dear Finny,
Ever been this close <---> to being finished with a sewing project and realized your print fabric was cut the wrong direction? I briefly considered starting over. I’d been working on this caddy for a good four hours. Instead, I poured myself a nice cold glass of reisling and said, “What would Finny do? She’d say, ‘Who doesn’t love a topsy turvy giraffe?'” Indeed.
Certainly the new wee one to whom this caddy is intended won’t mind.

goodies for the caddy

My friends are having babies like they don’t own television sets. All of a sudden, everyone is pregnant. Come to think of it, it’s been about three years since I was drowning in bridesmaid gowns. I’ve got more baby gifts to create than you can imagine. I’m getting the feeling this bathroom toiletry caddy turned crib caddy will be my token shower gift this season.

caddy, stuffed

What do you think? I can see this thing hanging off of a crib, ready and waiting for action. I briefly considering making another one for the parent’s bedroom, stuffed with Tylenol and tiny bottles of tequila, but I figured my sarcasm and a cesarean makes for a pretty rough week. And what is the August project already? Geez man. Get on the ball.


A Brownie for an Extention?

Dear Finny,
Okay, let’s face it — my priorities are all wacky. I’m supposed to be one of the leaders of this In Stitches sew-along and frankly, I’m just not keeping up. I really am quite excited about the bathroom caddy we selected for the July project, and I even know the theme I’m going to rock. I just haven’t made the time to sit down and sew it yet.

{And it all fairness, I’ve just regained regular use of my finger. Is this ridiculous barrage of excuses working? Hello? Bueller?}

I’ll have the project done by Friday. In the meantime, have you seen some of the fantastic caddies in the photo pool? Wowza. Nice work ladies!

peanut butter in the middle

How about a brownie in the meantime? I whipped these up last week. The easiest way to spice up a brownie-in-a-box recipe? Add a dollop of melted peanut butter in the middle. Yum. I brought these to softball and they were a hit. Perhaps I should have eaten one or two. It seems I cannot hit, the ball that is. Struck out swinging several times.

another dollop of brownie on top

But you know what? I’ve found that frisbee/softball/sewing teams don’t really mind if you suck as long as you bring a smile and a platter of sweets. Enjoy!


In Stitches July

Dear Finny,
I was looking through In Stitches last night and man if we haven’t already done a ton of projects! I am so proud of us. This group has come together to make some pretty incredible things. Bravo ladies!
I can’t wait to tackle the patchwork purse and the wallet. However, the dog-days of summer have arrived and I want a project that is easy and will make my life a bit more relaxing this time of year.

July In Stitches

July’s project is the bathroom caddy. The theme is luxury. Fill it with your favorite beauty products and tell us why they make you smile. And don’t forget to post your photo in the flickr pool by the end of the month so we can pick a winner. Anyone can participate! Fin, who is the winner for June?


Singing With my Singer

dinner anyone

Dear Finny,
How are you, my friend? Guess what? Yesterday, after thoroughly complaining I haven’t had enough time to be creative, I told myself enough was enough. Stop complaining and start doing. So, I cranked up the tunes, sat down at my sewing machine and completed a few wedding gifts. You know how you and Meg took plenty of time and thought into what fabric to select when creating your place mats and napkins for the June In Stitches theme? I, in lazy contrast, grabbed from the top of the pile and dug in. The JoAnn’s by my house recently had a moving sale and thankfully I had purchased several yards of lime cotton at a considerable discount. It nearly took as long to wash and press all the fabric for these as it did to sew these babies — my kind of project.

Limon inspired
June In Stitches

Voila — a summery dinner setting, which is being dropped in the mail today to celebrate a friend’s wedding. I am so glad I used canvas for the middle and back sections of these place mats. The extra weight is nice and they are durable. This couple has a young daughter, so I wanted something they could easily throw in the washing machine and use many times over without worrying about them falling apart. And yes, the trim is the same fabric I used for my May project. (And an Amy Butler Barcelona skirt that I was wearing when I posed with the donkey on Burro Street in Santa Fe. The Donks. Ha!) Are you sick of this fabric yet? Because I have a wee bit left and we’ve got five more months of projects.

martha tea towel apron

While I was being all crafty, I whipped up one last summer wedding gift. You know how Anna Wintour has her signature haircut? Jackie O had her signature sunglasses and style? Bush has his signature strategerie? Well — I now have a signature wedding gift — the basic apron that can be worn for either baking by the misses or grilling by the mister and my very favorite cookbook on earth:

my signature wedding gift

And with that, I wish you a very happy Friday, my friend. I miss you.


Amy Butler Knows What She’s Talking About

In Stitches May, ready to be wrapped

Dear Finny,
Have you sewn the May assignment yet? Once you have, I have a feeling you’ll want to make a dozen of these sweet aprons. As if we weren’t already in love with Ms. Butler and threatening to ship ourselves to her studio to learn more, this pattern is my favorite yet. I just love it! This apron is by far the nicest thing I’ve ever made. (So great, in fact, I actually immediately made another.) I can’t wait to make more of these pleated aprons for my favorite cooks.

Working the birthday apron

You requested an action shot for this month’s theme. My British Grannie turned 73 this week and rocked her new pleated birthday apron. Tell me she isn’t adorable? Oooh, how I love that woman!

May In stitches, action

And one last silly action shot when I tried to recreate the photo from the book.
Hope you are having a great weekend Fin!


In Stitches: May

Altar to the craft, love Gods

My Santa Fe purchases turned into a crafting/love altar. Who doesn’t need some good juju?

Dear Finny,
Howdy partner. Those are some pretty darn stylish chaps you’ve got on there. And by chaps, I mean lounge pants ala Butler. Can you believe how many great pairs of jammies our crafty group managed to whip up in April? I wish we could have a slumber party and take a giant group shot. Hee hee! Just imagine.
{You’d have to tell Bubba that alas, just like Santa Fe, no pillow fights or lingerie involved.}

Anyway, May. What to do? I’m thinking we bust out that cutesy apron. I’m going to add a couple of pockets so I can include it in the May/June Tie One On project because I’m fuel efficient that way.

What’s the theme? And who is our lovely April winner? And if that isn’t enough — what’s June’s project? Just kidding. You don’t have to tell me now, but I’m leaving this sew-along in your hands alone for the next few weeks until I’m home from Mozambique. So, you’ll have to pick the project and theme for June. I’ll bring you back some snazzy tribal fabric in return. Sound good?

Miss you Finny. I so wish we were back in Santa Fe sipping margaritas,

P.S. Did you see Britney performed in San Diego last night? I so wish I lived in your state. I would have paid $125 to see those 16 minutes of booty shaking craziness.

P.P.S. You are getting a Paper-Source in San Jose. The grand opening is June 2: 334 Santana Row. You know how you are in a new gardening shop? I have that same shop with fury spirit at this store. The closest one to me is Beverly Hills. Maybe Britney and I could schedule lunch there next month and I could kill two birds with one stone…

Small Small Catch Monkey

neck detail

I managed to sit down for a few hours yesterday to complete my April In Stitches assignment: the wide leg lounge pants with an embroidery theme. My inspiration for this month’s theme came directly from Not Quite Vintage’s awesome embroidered tanks. A simple, sweet and affordable way to spice up a $5 Old Navy find? Sign me up!

Small Small Catch Vacation

I have a girlfriend who has been going through a pretty rough patch of life lately. Thankfully, she and her husband are able to get away for a week on a tropical isle to refocus and refresh. Who doesn’t want some fun new jammies to take away on vacation? {I even busted out the lime linen water to iron these babies so they smell sweet and tropical.}

Jammies, complete

So, yes. I did cheat a bit in that my pants are not embroidered. But I did adapt the pattern — I used ribbon instead of the cloth drawstring. And wowza — Finny wasn’t lying — these babies are huge. I could wear the small and last time I checked, no one has ever called me small. Ever.


I’m plotting next month’s assignment — which will be posted May 1. What do you think of the wide leg lounge pants pattern? Your photos are looking mighty awesome.


Spring Redux

Dear Finny,
Lady, if I haven’t said it lately — you are amazing. Look at you rocking that 10k! And you did so in style! I love it. You are just awesome and I am so proud of you. A runner and a neighborhood negotiator. Seriously Finny — you are one talented dame!
Have you seen the beautiful collection of clutches created for the In Stitches March sew-a-long? I don’t know why I am constantly surprised by the creativity of others; y’all regularly wow me with your thoughtful projects. The fabric selection, adaptations (everyone hates Velcro, and everyone loves straps), the colors. I feel Spring in the air.
Our randomly selected winner for the March assignment is: Junie Moon.

March In Stitches winner

Tell me this doesn’t look like one of those cutouts from In Style magazine where they match the dress of the season with the accessories. So nicely done June! Check your mailbox next week for a prize.

Speaking of Spring and Amy Butler, I received the envelope of patterns this weekend. Included were the Frenchie Bag, Barcelona Skirt, Blue Sky Hat and Stash and Dash bags. {That sound you hear? It’s my feet dancing about in circles as I swing my hands above my head in happiness. Woo hoo!!} We’ll have to conquer these patterns together and share our feedback. I’m thinking that Barcelona Skirt is going to meet my New Year’s resolution of sewing my own clothes.

{I had a revelation the other day that soon enough I’m going to be the stereotypical hippie: a recycling-crazed vegetarian who sews her own clothes, would rather bike than drive, carries a Nalgene bottle just about everywhere and prefers homemade to store-bought any day of the week. Sweet veggie burger sandwich!}

My feedback for the March assignment: while I love the clutch shape, the original pattern is huge. Wowza huge. So, after chatting with Ms. Make it Snappy about this, I thought to put the pattern pieces on the copy machine at a 60% reduction. Voila:

In stitches clutch, mini

A much more appropriate sized clutch for the casual brunch in a sundress. This will hold car keys, cash, a driver’s license and some lip gloss. Parfait as they say! What’s the April assignment?

in stitches clutch, mini version, inside