Category Archives: In Stitches Sew Along

Email from a Craft Rock Star!

Dear Finny,
I survived my bike-swim-bike. I’m tired today, but I’ve found that two cups of strong coffee after a long ride help get me through the typical “bonk” period post-workout. Slowly, I’m learning how to push myself farther in this tri training. Are you stoked for your big race next Sunday? Doode! One week from today and you’ll be a 10ker! I am so proud of you.

Now, before I go any further, you are never going to guess who I got email from this week. Ms. Amy Butler herself. AMY BUTLER! Can you believe it? I thought to send her a quick note to let her know about our In Stitches sewalong and guess what? She’s agreed to provide a prize for an overall winner when our little sewing bee ties up in December. I KNOW! And to make matters that much better, have you seen her new patterns and stationery?

I yelped when I got her email and got all shaky — kind of like I’d imagine I’d react if I ran into Madonna at the market. My knees got a little weak and I was so unsure of how to respond that I let the email sit there for a day — going back over it word by word and pinching myself to make sure it was real. (It’s real and I’m bruised.) She, on the other hand, is as clever and charming as her designs would suggest.

How is your March clutch project going? Can’t wait to see what you pick for April! And ooh, I am already green with envy over the lucky lady who scores the loot from Amy come December. I can hear the Singer sewing engines roaring in the background!


Dutch Orange

My friend Caroline is South African by birth, Dutch by heritage and American by citizenship. She is a sweet blend of European beauty and African fun. I used the March In Stitches project to fuel my creativity for a gift for her birthday this week.

After a bit of research, I found out the Dutch were responsible for turning the common carrot orange. Carrots used to be purple and red and all sorts of different colors. In honor of the House of Orange (and in all fairness, this is where my knowledge of Dutch history gets a bit shaky), some crafty Dutch dudes changed the color of the common vegetable so all Europeans would think Dutch and orange when getting their beta carotene. And this all happened in the 1700s. Go figure.

I’d wondered why Dutch soccer stadiums are always full of orange crazies. Now I kind of get it. One of Caroline’s favorite sweets is carrot cake. Do you see the theme brewing?

Caroline's birthday gift

A Dutch-inspired clutch, mini tulip carrot cakes and an orange Dutch/African card.

when your purse matches your couch

I had been saving this soft orange floral fabric for just the right project. I love the way the clutch seems so demure…

Dutch-African clutch

When really it is just hiding a loud, happy African party inside. I bought this navy/red/orange print in Mozambique. Makes for a perfect lining.

cvid detail

To fit with the In Stitches theme for March, my adaptation to the pattern is this wrist strap, embroidered with Caroline’s initials.

Carrot cake tulips


The bag is Dutch on the outside, African on the inside. Just like Caroline.


A Rosey View

I didn’t get much cycling in this weekend, or swimming for that matter. I did, however, spend an hour or two at my favorite brewery, wash dishes at a soup kitchen, have lunch with girlfriends, enjoy 100 pages in a new novel I’m reading, and enjoy an ice cream cone in the sun after shopping the afternoon away with Alma. My bike may be dusty, but I’m not. It was a fantastically social weekend, with a few projects wrapped up in between outings.

Bedside organizer

February’s In Stitches project — check. I learned how to create pleats from this project, among other things. I split these in two and will be stuffing them with goodies and giving them away this month.

embroidery gift

A CAOK gift for an embroidery enthusiast I admire. Janet’s site is incredible. If you are an embroidery novice, you’ll truly appreciate her blog. She has a “stitch of the week” and I’ve learned quite a bit thanks to her patient tutorials.

scissors tied in

For example, this is my first time using blanket stitch. I used it around the little edges of this needle kit. I’m hoping my tension will get better with practice.

pink zebra pouch

A zebra bag for another girlfriend. Something about spring is making me love pink. I was never a “pink” girl growing up, but I am certainly celebrating all things rose these days. Pink. Pearls. Knitting. Sewing.
Good Lord. I’m becoming June Cleaver.


In Stitches: March

Dear Finny,
I was thinking we’d rock the Amy Butler clutch for the March assignment. What do you think?


With or without the cute flower pin, I like this bag. Plus, it will totally work when I am on my way to work, but don’t want to haul my Timbukt2 bag into the bagel shop. Voila! I little clutch hidden within the work bag that I can easily grab to pay for my morning carb/coffee addiction. Yes, that would be a bag within a bag. Yes, I do have an obvious handbag addiction too.

March In Stitches Project

Theme: make it your own. Perhaps you don’t like to carry your pocketbook. You want a bag. Add a strap! Change up this pattern to meet your needs and add a little spring to your step with a sweet new bag for the warming weather. (Or for you southern hemisphere folks, the cooling weather.)
I’m thinking pink. I’m in a very pink mood. What is that all about?
Glad to hear your hooves are feeling better Finny. Soon enough we’ll be running together on vacay. Woo hoo!


P.S. Do you think we should explain the Finny/Donk nicknames at some point?

P.P.S. We’ve got to pick our random winner for February and mail her some goodies. Don’t forget to drop your project photos in the Flickr pool. Did you see how many awesome projects have been submitted? WOW!

I’m No Ruler Magician Either

Dear Fin,
Man, what were we thinking when we decided to organize this monthly In Stitches sewing project? I suppose I was thinking no month should have just 28 days, that’s what. I make procrastination look good, and in February’s 30th day (or March 2), I managed to finish the easy part — the eye mask.

CAOK for Judy

This is for my friend Judy, who similar to Rex, is also kicking cancer’s ass. She is finishing up with chemo this week and we are all rooting for quick recovery. I’m telling you, if anyone could ever make chemo look glamorous, it’s Judy. She wears beautiful silk pajamas and head scarves in the hospital. Has her room decorated with origami cranes. Reads with leisure and sips coffee while counting down the seconds until she gets to go home. To make the process a bit more bearable, I made her the eye mask. She also wanted a velcro pouch for her cell phone and keys. Viola.

velcro key and cell phone pouch

You’ll notice I took the same kindergarten-macaroni approach you did and threw on some buttons to meet my embellishment theme for the month. I actually love these little purple buttons and I think they add the appropriate amount of flare. The quilting was a bit tricky, but once I decided I didn’t care if the lines were exactly 1 inch apart, it came together nicely.

What didn’t come together at all was the bedside organizer. First off, how is it that I didn’t realize this pattern intended to make an organizer on both sides of the bed? HELLO! I do not need my sewing reminding me of the fact that no one has slept on the other side of the bed in quite some time. My grandparents? Yes. My boss? Yes. The men at the bagel shop who ask if I am ever getting married? Yes. My sewing projects — NO. So, I am in the process of cutting this project in two. I figure I’ll keep half and send half to my grandmother in Pennsylvania who also loves being single.

Where I got lost on the bedside organizer

Now, back to the project. See here in step 6 where it says line up the raw edges of the sides and bottom of the random pockets? I swear I cut these out to the right sizes, but obviously the sides don’t match up. Can anyone help me with this?

random pockets don't line up

I’ll post the March project today! Thank you for your patience and the fact that I am late, late, late with these lame results.


In Stitches Theme: February **Updated**

{Update: I’m an idiot and posted the wrong project. Eek! Finny selected the BEDSIDE ORGANIZER AND EYE MASK — NOT THE BATHROOM CADDY. Oops, my bad. Read on.}


Dear Finny,
Have such a good time skiing this weekend! I am slightly envious. As you know, I don’t really do snow, but I love me a lodge! Anyway, I hope you have lots of fun with your hubby on the slopes.
When you get back, we’ll have to chat more about the projects you have selected for the February In Stitches theme: the bedside organizer and the eye mask. Ooh la la! Just think how fancy my bed will look when I get all my magazines and pens and journals and stuff organized. Schweet. And that eye mask? Did you know that there is a rather annoying street light just outside of my bedroom window and four nights out of five I sleep with a pillow covering my face? An eye mask seems much more Jackie O — and therefore, I’m in love.

And so it is announced: the February In Stitches theme is: the bedside organizer or the eye mask (or both for the ambitious sort) with a bit of embellishment. Spice these babies up with ribbon, buttons, embroidery, stamping, etc…

January In Stitches Winner

Now, on to other news. Guess who the winner is for the January document duvet project? Selected at random was Mrs. Rachael. Bravo! Aren’t you impressed with how these ladies took on this document duvet? Wowza!! Love the variations and the creativity that came through. Nice work to you all! Rachael, your prize will be in the mail pronto.

Happy weekend Fin!

Shabby Chic Japanese-Style

Dear Finny,
Man, oh man, how I wish you were here. I need you, a pitcher of Ace Pear, a veggie burger and about four hours on the patio of Four Peaks. And of course, a cab.
Rather than drinking away this crazy week, I’ve taken to some Butler therapy. Me + In Stitches + a pattern June says is “easy” + a bunch of shabby chic fabric. And lookie what I made?

Kimono robe

It’s a kimono robe for a certain February birthday girl. I like the blue fabric, but am not so sure about the trim. And as for this baby being easy?

back of kimono robe

Well, June is a master seamstress and I am not. {Have you seen her latest projects? Talented!} This was my first sewn garment and the shoulders are a bit wonky. So, I just added a bit of recycled bias tape and a bit of extra so you can hang the sucker up. What do you think?

goofy model

While I was at it, I made a couple wristlets — because I’m a bit addicted and have that giant eBay zipper stash to go through.

shabby chic wristlet
recycled Africa pouch

This wristlet, I must say, is a fantastic example of recycling. Remember when I tried making those baby dresses from pattern? They were for baby Pia — the newest addition to the 6.5 family. Well, they were a disaster and ended up in my scrap bag — only to be turned into an African pouch. My mom ended up making the dresses anew for me when I visited at Christmas.

Orange dress
Daisy dress

Got to love my mama. She is so darned good behind that sewing machine. Speaking of, what’s the February In Stitches theme? We’ve also got to select January’s winner from the flickr gallery.
You sure you can’t come over for the weekend?


p.s. I bought the new Norah CD today. It is so, so good!

Document Duvet? Check.

in stitches, January

Dear Finny,
After a whirlwind weekend of rock climbing, biking and sewing (ha ha, I’m not kidding), guess what? I got the January In Stitches assignment completed. Viola — I present my document duvet and photo file in valentine colors no less. What do you think?
I agree with you — the grommet is not my favorite tool. But, I did figure it out and I am happy to have learned a new technique. I’ve added my photo to the flickr set. {If you are sewing along, feel free to drop yours in the set too.} Let’s pick a winner by January 31st. I’ll send out the prize this month. Deal? This is going to be such a good way to clean out my studio. I’ve got piles of fabric, yarn and ribbon that I’d love to send to a new home.
Now Miss Finny, since I picked this month’s project, it is your turn to pick February’s. I’ll select the theme. Sound good?


P.S. Tell that hubby of yours I say hello. Miss you both!

The Real Timbuktu is in Mali, by the way

Hello, my name is Kelli and I’m a shopaholic. My mother, in Texas, is reading this and throwing her hands in the air screaming, “Hallelujah! She’s progressed from denial to acceptance!”
Okay, I admit it. I enjoy a purchase or two. This is only a problem when I’ve organized an art fest with a use-what-you’ve-got-theme and thumb my nose at my own rules. Mea culpa.
So, if you saw me shopping at JoAnn’s this afternoon, I:
A. Used a gift card
B. Used a coupon
C. I suck.

In my weak defense, if you are playing along to this In Stitches Sew Along, you see that the project requires a grommet. I did not know what a grommet was until this afternoon. Now, I am the proud owner of a grommet tool, to which I applied my 40% off coupon.

In happier and less-guilty shopping news, lookie what I “won” today! I love eBay. While she may not be as cute as the brown birdie bag, she is a fraction of the cost and three of my favorite colors.

timbuk2 bag

LOVE! Now, the only think that might make me a bigger dork was if I was sewing a coordinating document duvet. You know it! But seriously, how cute is this bag going to be when I’m trekking through Mozambique this summer? Or hiking about Central America this Fall? Work it!


In Stitches January Project


Dear Finny,
Yeeow! I think your idea of creating the document duvet or CD holder/desktop organizer for our January project is genius. It is January after all — a time for organization. I’m thinking tax season might be a bit more tolerable if my papers are tucked in one of these.

Document duvet

And your theme? Using what we have? Perfect! I am vowing not to buy any more art supplies of any sort for 4 months. I have to start using what’s now overflowing out of the studio closet.

CD and desktop organizer

And so the fun begins! I’ll make the margaritas, you bring the chips. Call me Sunday if you have any problems with the patterns. If I’m slightly slurring and still cutting pattern pieces, all is well.

A couple points of interest: there are corrections to Amy Butler patterns, including the document duvet here. (Thanks June!) And Finny and I have created a Flickr group here for all interested in playing along! By the way Finny, I love the button you created above. So crafty!