Category Archives: Sew Along

Fabric by Fabric Sew Along: October

October sew along

October sew along

This month’s sew along from the Fabric by Fabric book is a great one, and is our last. I’ve got stacks of holiday sewing to get started with and let’s be honest — I had a hard time getting many people to play along. (Needless to say, this is the last book-focused sew-along I’ll coordinate for a bit. Still glad I did, mostly because I adore Sue and her pattern was fantastic.)

So, let’s knock this project out of the park and whip up some eight-bottle totes, shall we? Perfect for visits to the grocery when you may be hauling home a variety of libations or other jarred items. Also great for picnics and parties. I plan on making my test project with this fabric:

October sew along

and potentially more of these as holiday gifts.

You know how it works. Drop your photo off at the pool. Winners selected. Pretty much all who play receive a prize.

Sew on!


How about that sew along…

Sewing Tutorial for Bianca

Remember when we started this year with a boom and a new sew along? Sue had a great pattern in that one book and the publishers found out I was hosting this project-a-month plan and sent me a giant box of prizes to give away?

Well. Let’s get back on track. Shall we?

Sewing Tutorial for Bianca

While we’ve had some stellar entries over the last few months, I have a feeling this month’s project might take the cake. Surya of SewKnitClick is a gold medal contender in the Swaddle. She whipped up this project and a tutorial to motivate our sew-along. Check out her fab work here. (Thank you, S!)

And why a swaddle blanket? Because if you don’t own anything to swaddle (Nelson just says no to forced cuddles), chances are you know someone who has a babe on the way, has just landed, etc.

Babies: happening since 1 BC.

My girlfriends who are mamas say the keys to a happy infant are: shush, swaddle and swat.

Wait. That’s not right.

Close enough. Take a look at the project. Post your photos here. One winner to be selected and swaddled with a box of prizes. Also, leave a comment if you have a pattern in this book we haven’t covered that you’d like to try!

Sew on,


OYW: 2010 Crafters Unite!


Dear Finny,

One Yard Wonders has proven a challenging sew along. Not that the book isn’t chalked full of great ideas, but that it seems our loyal readers and joiners from the previous sew alongs haven’t been as inspired. And to be honest, with the craziness that has been my 2010 — I simply haven’t been sewing as much.

That said, my fine friend, you are the WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER. Because, alas, you were the only entry in the September/October sew along. But never fear, you did make yourself a sweet little hipster bag. So it wasn’t all for nothing, right?

Dorks, hiking

Fancy bubbly

The Finny

(Yep, these are just gratuitous shots of the Finnberg. Because I love her.)

That said, Fin — we have to spice things up pronto. Crafters unite! For the November/December Fin + Donk OYW sew along, the project is: ANY PROJECT IN THE BOOK. That’s right. We are taking off the parameters, asking you to pick a project at will, and get to sewing. Show us what you are making, explain why you are making it and throw that photo into the craft pool.

And when you work up a hunger? Here is the fabulous recipe for the month too. Nothing like a great bowl of soup when it cools down. (Never mind in Phoenix that means it is still 90 today.)

Fire up those Singers, ladies. It’s time to get to business.


OYW July + August Sew-Along


First, may I just wish you a belated birthday? How was it? I hope your package of birthday goodies from Arizona have arrived and that you were spoiled rotten with gin + tonics, fancy yarn, new gardening tools, running gear,  time with your Bubba and time in nature.  Plus pie. Perhaps rhubarb.

I hope it was truly lovely. This time of year always makes me think of you — the years we worked together in college — and how the beginning of a new Fall semester meant a great birthday party for Finny.

It seems only right we honor you by sewing up the Not-Ugly-Trash-Bag for this double-month’s sew-along. I love this project. In fact, [SPOILER!] chances are if I typically sew you a Christmas present, this is exactly what you’ll be receiving. They are practical, keep things clean, are easy to sew and they have the Finny stamp of approval. Check, check, checkity check.

One Yard Wonders -- Trash Bag

Never mind that I sewed the pocket inside out. I was going for that look. Um, really. Regardless, my car is already cleaner and more stylish because of this great project. Our winner is Sourkraut. Love the cupcake fabric! (Honorable mention and previous winner Sue deserves a high five for her awesome elephant too. SO cute. Those ears!)

Thank you for participating ladies.

So, Finny — what are our next sewing assignments from One Yard Wonders?

Keeping with our theme of a sewing project and a recipe, this month’s kitchen assignment is something I hope will bring in the new season. Cooler temperatures, fall leaves, sleeves, being able to spend time outside without the possibility of death…

Pumpkin bread for Thanksgiving

Banana Bread

Pumpkin Carrot Gingerbread


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 carrots, shredded (can use squash instead)
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease loaf pans. Combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water, pumpkin, carrots  and spices. In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Can’t wait to hear what we are sewing up Finny!

Much love,


A Pinch of Creative Spirit, Shall We?

Cover art, framed

I opened my mailbox Saturday to a giant box from Colleen. She saved the original cutout she created of the cover, signed and framed it with gorgeous fabric and sent it my way as a congratulatory gift.

There weren’t enough Kleenex in the house.

Cover art, framed

Cover art, framed

I thought about editing out the toaster, but this is life. My home isn’t a gallery, but the kitchen just got a lot more aesthetic thanks to Colleen’s incredible generosity.

Birthday gift

In the artsy mood — I had a bit of time to sew this weekend for a birthday party later in the week. I love this pattern. I made a couple of these bags this time last year. It’s the mix of colors, the tapered design and the bamboo handle. Something about the handle brings it all together  and makes it look a little less homemade and a bit more handmade. (Semantics to some, style to others.)

Birthday gift

In other crafty news, for those participating in this month’s One Yard Wonder sew-along and want some guidance on sewing the Elodie Elephant, Sue found a great set of tutorials on Youtube. Brava!

IMG_4610Birthday gift

And on a final note, holy Mary Moses! On toast! How adorable are these baby dolls Shanna has created for the Brazilian Babies project?! I have such amazing artists in my life.


OYW July + August


I may officially be the very worst sewing partner in the history of sew-alongs because this is what my May/June project looks like:

June's project...

I’ve got a super cute fabric, plenty of bias tape and I’m ready to roll. I just haven’t gotten there quite yet. Thankfully, others did. You picked a great winner for this double month’s projects.

I think we shall pick two more to get us through the summer hump. How about:


The elephant! Come on. I’m African. If I had a pattern in this book, this would be it. And speaking of authors of published patterns…

July-August projects

It’s about time we made YOUR pattern for the Not Ugly Car Trash Bag. I might be a little proud. (Kinda like BP might be in a little trouble. Aretha may need to loose a little weight. Oprah may have a little money.) How cute is that Airedale in the photo?


Answer: not as cute as Miss Lola, who I doggy-sat this weekend.

I digress.

As the One Yard Wonder sew-along goes, Finny and I post a sewing project from the book, along with a great recipe to try. This month’s recipe is Fin’s fabulous summer strawberry salad.Yum. I love salad. I love fruit. I love them combined. Good work Fin! As a participant in the monthly challenge (bi-monthly in the lazy summer months), you pick a sewing project or two, and/or the recipe and share them on your blog and post photos to the photo pool. We randomly pick one rocking winner a month to reward to crafty goods.

Craft on, my friends. Craft on.


Babies for Brazil


Sorrow’s amazing addition to the sew-along. Love the Brazilian babe!

A while back I emailed a handful of crafty friends and asked if they’d be interested in a very special project. And then, after a deluge of positive email responses, I completely forgot about this little crafty event.


And so, I am now inviting the Internets to join along too. My friend Jessica, who has done amazing work in Brazil for years, recently brought toys to the children living in impoverished communities. The photos struck me; there were many gorgeous little Brazilian girls and boys carrying around very anglo baby dolls. They were tickled to have their own toy. But it got me thinking.

My favorite doll when I was a child was an African American Cabbage Patch doll named Elizabeth. (Second only to Aggie, the red-headed Irish version.) These two dolls were with me everywhere as a young girl. I adored them. Like little girls in countries around the world, my dolls were special. They had a tiny suitcase full of clothes and regularly were seat-belted into the car next to me. Thinking about it now, Elizabeth was a precursor to a life in love with Africa.

May 17 2010 035

I want to provide the children Jessica is working with in Brazil with dolls that look like they do. Specifically, these Brazilian babies would provide a bit of handmade love to little girls living in poverty. Call me sentimental, but it makes me smile to think of a handful of girls growing up with a handmade item, knowing a woman they’ve never met thought of them, saw their potential, wanted to know they were special and wanted to encourage them to be amazing.

This is what a doll — a tiny piece of folk art — can do. Do not underestimate the power of focused women, especially when they are artists.

June 30 2010 026

Duda wrapped her sweet doll in a homemade quilt.

Care to join this sew along? The rules are simple:

Make a handmade doll — knit, sew, whittle — in the spirit of Brazil. Include details in the doll that encourage your village girl. Photograph your creation and place it in the Flickr pool. Then, mail the doll, with a note if you’d like, to Jessica in New York by September 1.

It should also be said that I don’t know a thing about sewing dolls. I am going into this blind and simply hoping good fortune and patience will see this idea through.

Please leave a comment if you want to play along. I’ll email details to those who participate. This is an easy way for women internationally to provide a bit of handmade love to girls in a Brazilian village. It is simple, sincere and sweet. I hope you’ll join us!


A Little Bit of This…


Friends, my life is so scattered at the moment, I feel like a sandcastle that’s just been hit by an ice cold wave. Then again — it is self-imposed chaos after three back-to-back trips and a new job. And so, I ask that you hang in there with me while I get reorganized.

A couple of odd errors I’ve been meaning to correct:

1. My recipe for this month’s OYW project? 1/2 cup of peanut butter. NOT 1 1/2 cups. Jeez.


2. The sewing projects for this month’s OYW project? They are the summer nightie and the pintucked top. Also, you have 2 months to complete these. I am going to try both. I know. Big promises for a girl who can’t seem to buy groceries and make dinner most nights of the week nowadays. (Is nowadays a word? If not, I’m making it so.)

So — 1/2 a cup of PB. Cute clothes. Two months to complete. Cook. Sew. Go!


In other news, I’ve read a bunch of great books lately and haven’t posted the details:

1. The Help. 4 out of 5 bananas. I really enjoyed this read and it left me with a newfound hunger for southern American writers. I actually bought Faulkner after reading this. It is a beautiful story of race, women, motherhood, and the South in the 1960s. This was an anti-vampire book club selection and I was very pleased. Read this book.

2. Little Bee. 3 out of 5 bananas. I also enjoyed this, mainly because it discusses both refugees and Africa. I thought the story was interesting and the characters were good. I simply wanted more. The main character in particular — Little Bee — was fascinating and I felt like we only got a glimpse at who she really was. Plus the ending left me wondering if it was written for a sequel. Nonetheless, any book that discusses these heavy topics is a winner with me. I appreciate the author’s attempt to teach the masses about those often overlooked in society.

3. The Blood of Flowers. 3 out of 5 bananas. An interesting story about Persian women and carpet making centuries ago.

I am currently reading, The Elegance of the Hedgehog for book club. It is translated from French and you can tell, which drives me a little batty. But the story is so far keeping my attention. I am debating several options for my selection for book club next month, including Brady Udall’s newest book, The Lonely Polygamist. Udall is the author of one of my favorite books of all time, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint. Others under consideration include: People of the Book and Half the Sky.


Also? I currently have about 10,000 tomatoes, thanks to those 23 plants I planted back in January. I am going to can tomatoes this weekend, like some sort of homesteader. And do laundry. And by groceries. Because, by golly, I will catch up, put away the suitcase. I will. I will. I will!


One Yard Wonders, May


I’ve been on the road for the last few days and am behind, behind, delightfully behind. A couple pre-new-job-trips have me happily distracted. However, in trying to keep up with the new gig and the suitcase that hasn’t been put away for several weeks, I’ve been delayed in posting the new OYW projects!

Did you pick a winner? Is it my turn to pick a winner from the dog collar project gone awry?

{Update: It is my turn to pick! And Sarah HB! You win! Love this shot of your fab fennel salad. Brava! Prize forthcoming.}

What do you suggest for the May sewing project?

For the May cooking project, how about what I made last night. This goes with our theme of being both seasonal and cleaning up what you have in the pantry. Because let’s be honest — who doesn’t have 5-14 different boxes of pasta in their pantry that have 1 serving left? This recipe calls for angel hair, but I guarantee is delicious with whatever you’ve got. Including a handful of peppers from the farmer’s market.


Summer Thai Peanut Pasta

Serves 6


1 package of angel hair pasta

.5 cups of peanut butter (or almond paste, if you’d prefer) — updated!

1 bunch of scallions

3 bell peppers of your choice

3 cups of assorted veggies of your choice (I like broccoli and snap peas)

1/2 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced.

splash of rice vinegar

splash of teriyaki sauce

dash of cayenne

1 cube of chicken bouillon

splash of hot sauce (either a spicy oil, or your favorite salsa. Mine is Sriracha)

Can of water chestnuts

Peanuts (added as a topping, optional)


Boil water for pasta. Cook for 6-8 minutes — al dente.

In a wok or other large pan, brown onion and garlic with olive oil. Add diced veggies — minus the scallions. Add dash of vinegar and teriyaki. Drain pasta, saving 1/2 cup of cooking water. In the pan you cooked the pasta, add 1/2 cup of cooking water, 2 cups of warm water with chicken bouillon cube, peanut butter, another dash of teriyaki and a dash of cayenne. Mix until it comes to a simmer. Return pasta to this sauce and mix. Plate with cooked summer veggies on top, with a handful of peanuts and scallions. This is excellent with grilled asparagus on the side and a nice red wine. Or two.


Don’t judge. Did you see how many veggies were included in this recipe? A few more grapes won’t hurt.


One Yard Wonders: Another Flop


Safe to say, I’m not having much sewing luck these days. While your pattern in One Yard Wonders is adorable and I can’t wait to make it, I’ve had nothing but trouble from the others we’ve so far selected for our monthly sew-along. This month’s Pampered Pooch project was no better.


Dharma, the family pooch, is always next to my mom. In this case, by the sewing table.

I read the pattern for the dog collar with two dogs in mind: Sydney — the super guest, and a new puppy friend — The Snows of Mount Kilimanjaro (Kili). I read the pattern. And then I read it again. And then one more time. Not only was I going to have to guess the length of their necks but I also had no luck finding an O ring at my sewing shops in town.

Happy in her environment

So I did what any logical seamstress would do. I took the project to Texas and asked my sewing mama for help. Now, I’m going to add the following details as background information — not simple bragging. My mother has won international sewing prizes for her quilts. She’s got more ribbons pinned to sewing projects than you can imagine. Some of these quilts have taken years (like her Dear Jane.) So a simple dog collar shouldn’t be Everest, or in this case — Kilimanjaro.

Sew Mama Sew!

Alas, even she threw in the towel after two hours of trying to make the instructions work. As you noted, this collar is a Martingale style. Most vets, pet salons, dog parks, etc., require quick release collars. So the shopping for supplies, the gorgeous orange Mozambican capulana I cut up for the fabric and the time trying to decode the pattern were a complete waste.

I see you had problems too. I also see you are far more motivated than I am and you turned these lemons into lemonade. (My mom and instead made margaritas.) I’ll have to give your pattern a whirl! Next month? I’m going to let you happily pick the sewing project. And I promise to do it and be happy about it. May I suggest the laptop sleeve? That looks simple enough. Or better yet — how about your trash bag?